OTTAWA — St. Francis Xavier University linebacker Henoc Muamba became the fifth CIS player in as many years – and the ninth in the past 12 years – to be selected first overall in the CFL Canadian Draft when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers called his name at No. 1, on Sunday.
For all the information on the CFL Canadian Draft: www.cfl.ca/prospects
The 34 CIS players selected out of 47 total picks (72.3%) are the fourth best total dating back to 1970 (complete CFL Draft archives go back to 1970), only two less than last year’s tally and four behind the record set in 2009.
Like last year, four CIS standouts went in the first round. Seven were chosen in the second, five in the third, seven in the fourth, five in the fifth and six in the sixth.
Muamba, who hails from Mississauga, Ont., followed in the footsteps of Queen’s linebacker Shomari Williams, who was picked first overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders a year ago, as well as Alberta offensive lineman Simeon Rottier, Saskatchewan defensive back Dylan Barker and Regina wide receiver Chris Bauman, all No. 1 selections of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively.
Laval defensive end Miguel Robébé (2005, Calgary), Saint Mary’s offensive lineman Steven Morley (2003, Calgary), Laval offensive lineman Alexandre Gauthier (2002, Ottawa) and UBC linebacker Tyson St. James (2000, Saskatchewan) were also No.1 picks out of CIS since 2000.
Since 1970, 21 CIS players have been chosen with the top pick with only three players from the Atlantic University Sport conference earning the honour including Muamba, Morley and Dalhousie defensive tackle Mike Riley in 1977 (Ottawa).
Muamba, whose older brother Cauchy spent the 2010 CFL season with the B.C. Lions after being selected in the fifth round (34th overall) last spring, also made StFX history as he became the first member of the X-Men to go first overall. Before today, only two StFX players had been selected in the first round since 1970 including defensive linemen Mark Farraway in 1997 (8th overall, Edmonton) and Andrew McConnell in 1987 (6th overall, Winnipeg).
Prior to 1970 (CFL archives for top-3 picks go back to 1956), running back Paul Brule was the only StFX player to go in the first round. He was the second overall selection in 1968.
The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba was ranked 10th on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top prospects list back in December but moved all the way up to No. 3 on the April list following an impressive showing at the CFL Evaluation Camp in March. A two-time AUS defensive player of the year in four seasons with the X-Men, the 22-year-old claimed the Presidents’ Trophy as the top defensive player in CIS last fall after he finished fourth in the country with 63.5 tackles in eight conference games, including an AUS-leading 47 solo tackles. He was also in the top 10 in the Atlantic with 11 tackles for losses and 3.5 sacks and merited all-Canadian status for the third straight campaign, including back-to-back first-team nods. He finished his university as StFX’s all-time leading tacklers (149.5).
“I’m extremely honoured to be picked first overall by such a great organization,” Muamba told CFL Draft broadcaster TSN. “I’m ready to go back to work and excited about attending my first CFL training camp.”
Rounding out the first-round selections out of CIS were Calgary slotback Anthony Parker of Okotoks, Alta., who went to the Calgary Stampeders at No. 3; Saskatchewan wide receiver Jade Etienne of Deer Valley, Sask., picked by Winnipeg at No. 4; and Calgary wide receiver Nathan Coehoorn of Redcliff, Alta., taken by Edmonton with the fifth pick.
Parker, who was the highest-ranked CIS player on the final CFL Scouting Bureau list (No. 2), helped the Dinos capture the Canada West title and reach the Vanier Cup national final each of the past two years. Despite missing three regular season games last fall, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound speedster finished third in Canada West with 73.4 receiving yards per contest and fifth in all-purpose yards with an average of 125.2. Named a conference all-star for the second straight season, he hit his stride in the playoffs with 588 all-purpose yards and six receiving touchdowns in four outings. A second-team all-Canadian in 2009, he was one of two CIS players invited to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game in Florida in January.
Etienne, whose name didn’t appear on the Scouting Bureau’s April list, was a first-team all-Canadian in 2010 thanks in part to his CIS-leading 25.8 yards per reception and his six TD catches, which tied him for the CIS lead. Despite missing one conference game, the 6-foot-3, 184-pound wideout topped Canada West and finished third in the country with 721 yards on only 28 receptions.
Coehoorn, a three-time Canada West all-star and two-time all-Canadian, was the Dinos’ top receiver last season with 416 yards on 28 catches and also led the Western conference with 494 punt return yards. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior was a big part of Calgary’s back-to-back trips to the Vanier Cup final and was ranked seventh on the final CFL prospects list.
Calgary led all CIS programs with six players selected. Laval, Western and Concordia followed with four apiece.
The RSEQ was the most prolific of the four CIS conferences with no less than 14 draftees, followed by the OUA (9), Canada West (8) and the AUS (3).
Receivers and defensive linemen were the most popular CIS players as nine from each position were called. Offensive linemen (8) ranked a close third.
Also of note, at least one CIS quarterback will have the chance to attend a CFL camp as Ottawa’s Brad Sinopoli, the reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner from Peterborough, Ont., was picked in the fourth round (29th overall) by Calgary.