With the college football playoffs and Vanier Cup wrapped up, another winter of prospect evaluation is upon us.
While COVID variants continue to raise doubt about whether we’ll return to a ‘normal’ in-person testing evaluation and interview process in time for the spring, there is plenty of great game film to review. It’s a welcome change of pace after the loss of U SPORTS’ canceled 2020 season.
Here are the top ten distinguished names you can expect to hear plenty more about as we work through the cold weather months and begin to see 2022 CFL rosters take shape.
1 (4) Jesse Luketa
Penn State | LB
With an invitation to the Senior Bowl already under his belt, this Ottawa native is set to garner plenty of NFL interest following a stellar 2021 season wrapping up 53 tackles – just shy of his career best 59 in 2020 – and snatching his first career interception at Penn State.
Can you imagine if Ottawa ever got Luketa in uniform to play alongside 2020 CFL Draft ‘futures’ picks LB Deshawn Stevens, West Virginia DB Alonzo Addae and Laval standout Adam Auclair?
2 (7) Jalen Philpot
Calgary | REC
With speed to burn any defender and a violence to his approach after the catch, Jalen Philpot jumps five spots onto the Winter Scouting Bureau podium joining his brother Tyson as the only offensive skill position players in the top five.
The footage speaks for itself. If Jalen doesn’t get a chance in the NFL he’ll quickly become one of the most promising Canadian receiver projects, capable of being the best of the bunch in a couple years.
3 (6) Enock Makonzo
Coastal Carolina | DB
From LaChine, Quebec via Canadian pipeline, New Mexico Military Institute Makonzo is slightly undersized depending on your expectations and positional fit or scheme, but his game is as big as any.
Flying around to the tune of 71 tackles on a defence consistently overshadowed by the beautiful circus that is the Chanticleers offence, Makonzo has made a name for himself and will be a fan favourite when he cracks a CFL roster.
4 (2) Tyrell Richards
Syracuse | LB
The Brampton football factory continues to churn out special players and Richards, at six-foot-four and 218 pounds, fits the bill of an elite outside linebacker prospect. His special teams experience and film will undoubtedly gain himself some respect in the evaluation process. Some top-end athletic testing scores could really drive his stock over the top this spring.
5 (15) Tyson Philpot
Calgary | REC
I cringe at trying to compare and contrast Jalen with Tyson because the fact is, their games are equally special and unique. But the reality is if Jalen is ranked in the top five, Tyson absolutely has to be there as well. I believe Tyson might have slightly more natural hands and Jalen could have a slight bit of extra burst, but instead of tearing them down against each other I think we should celebrate the showcase spectacle that both offer up every time they put a helmet on.
6 (10) Tre Ford
Waterloo | QB
Embrace the revolution of Canadian quarterbacks landing in the Scouting Bureau annually! I can’t wait to carve out some time for a Tre Ford deep dive soon because every clip I see of him makes my imagination wander with the possibilities of his pro potential.
It’s clear the Scouting Bureau voters are warming to the fact he’s much more than a one-dimensional athlete with his rise in the ranks and with the excitement surrounding Nathan Rourke in BC, who showed well in rookie Michael Reilly relief duty, my hope is the tide could finally be turning to accepting Canadians can play the most important position on the field. Ford is next.
7 (-) Deionte Knight
Western | DL
I worked the sidelines of this year’s Yates Cup between Western and Queen’s from Kingston, and Deionte Knight – rightfully so – had the FULL attention of Gaels coaches and blockers, who spent significant resources in attempting to neutralize the U SPORTS lineman of the year.
What makes his impact more impressive is that Knight lost time in 2019 to injury and 2020 to COVID, but was still able to plant his personal flag atop the Canadian University football landscape in 2021 helping Western beat Saskatchewan’s dominant ground game for the Vanier Cup.
8 (13) Zack Fry
Western | OL
At six-foot-six and 300 pounds, Zack Fry has the type of smooth feet you’d expect from a big man who grew up playing hockey around the rinks of London, Ontario before committing to football full time and the Mustangs.
The biggest bonus of his resume has to be experience and depth of understanding from so much time spent on field after appearing in multiple Vanier Cups and competing against the best national pass rushers Canada has to offer on big stages.
9 (12) Tyrell Ford
Waterloo | DB
Often compared, but never overshadowed by brother Tre, Tyrell has the length and speed to cover ground quickly as a CFL free safety. Factor in his return game ability and ball skills, and you have the making of a top-10 pick this year for a team looking to upgrade Canadian depth on defence quickly.
10 (20) Noah Zerr
Saskatchewan | OL
I love watching the Vanier Cup for the tradition, pressure packed scenarios and great storylines, but this year I was most excited to see Noah Zerr work his craft against fellow top-10 Scoring Bureau prospect Deionte Knight.
On a line full of big – and CFL drafted – bodies, Zerr is unquestionably the next prairie giant set to make CFL decision makers drool in the first round, an annual tradition at this point.