- Free Agency
For the second year in a row, the Bishop’s Gaiters stole the show at the annual CFL Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok in Toronto last month.
Wide receiver/return specialist Steven Turner was the undisputed star of the camp. The fourth year player finished first in four events and set an E-Camp record in the 40-yard dash. Turner’s time of 4.31 seconds broke the mark of 4.39 set by former teammate Jamall Lee in 2009.
The Brampton, Ontario product also finished first in the vertical leap (43.5”) just a half inch off Lee’s standard also set last year. Turner was first in the shuttle in 4.03 seconds and tied for first in the broad jump with a leap of 10’4.5”. He had a respectable 20 bench presses.
“I’m kind of surprised that I led in so many categories but I put a lot of hard work into this,” says Turner. “I spent the whole month leading up to it working on my technique with trainers and overall it is a little overwhelming. But it is a really good feeling.”
Turner’s outstanding performance moved him up to fourteenth spot on the most recent CFL Scouting Bureau list. He and teammate Shawn Gore are the two highest-rated receivers on the list.
“I think our guys did really, really well,” says Bishop’s head coach Leroy Blugh. “The feedback I got was that they interviewed well, they were respectful and their training and conditioning shows they gave the game the respect it deserves. We are very, very proud of them. They are great ambassadors for our team.”
In his fifth season as Head Coach at Bishop’s, Blugh has resurrected a program that had fallen on difficult times since the 1990’s. In 2007 he led the Gaiters to a playoff appearance and their first winning season in 12 years. Last season, Bishop’s was 4-4 and lost to Montreal in the QUFL semi-final. Blugh, a defensive end and Gaiters alumni, played 15 seasons in the CFL with Edmonton and Toronto.
“Coach Blugh’s experience in the CFL is a huge bonus,” Turner adds. “He knows exactly what it takes to get there both physically and mentally. He offers a critique but it is always to better the player, never to bring him down. This is a real credit to the Bishop’s program. Coming here is one of the best decisions I ever made.”
“It’s great for the program; we are finally getting some credit. Since we lost Jamall a lot of people thought the team wouldn’t be anything but we are one of the hardest working teams in the CIS. We work hard in the gym and our coaches put in the time and effort to make us successful.”
The Gaiters trio of Turner, Gore and Nick Poloniato dominated the 40-yard dash as they took three of the top five spots. Turner and Gore also finished in the top four in both the vertical jump and broad jump.
Gore had an impressive camp as he moved up to tenth spot on the CFL prospect list. He finished tied for fourth in the 40 (4.50 seconds), and fourth in both the vertical (39.5”) and broad jump (10.3”). The Toronto native had 32 receptions for 496 yards and five touchdowns last season to lead the Gaiters in all three categories. He was recently named Bishop’s Male Athlete of the Year.
Defensive back Poloniato, the final member of the Bishop’s contingent, finished third in the 40 in 4.46 seconds. He also finished seventh in the shuttle with a time of 4.23 seconds.
This year’s camp marks the second consecutive year that the Gaiters have placed two players in the top fifteen on the final CFL Scouting Bureau list. The outstanding results come on the heels of last year’s performance by Lee and James Yurichuk. Lee, a running back who was picked third overall and is with the B.C. Lions, came out of E-Camp ranked second. Yurichuk, a 6’4” 233 lb linebacker chosen fourth overall in the first round, also by the Lions, was rated tenth.
“I talk to Jamall all the time,” says Turner. “He was proud of my performance and is a real good role model for me. I have always looked up to Jamall.”
“These results say a lot about the caliber of our athletes,” Blugh adds. “We play in a tough division and it shows that we match up with anybody. Our program has taken big steps the last few years and we have made a commitment to recruiting the best athletes out there. The results are showing.”