July 5, 2024

Ferguson: Philpot bros. ready to meet as opponents

It seems hard to imagine, but the Philpot brothers were drafted just a few short years ago.

Yes, those Philpot brothers, the ones who simultaneously tore up U SPORTS as members of the Calgary Dinos. The ones who made all the right moves — on and off field — at the CFL Combine presented by New Era in Toronto and both were selected in the first round of the 2022 CFL Draft.

Those brothers who have attended each others’ first couple seasons of professional football whenever possible including Jalen watching brother Tyson catch the game-winning touchdown in the 110th Grey Cup for the Alouettes in Hamilton last year.

Tyson and Jalen have done a lot, but Saturday night in Montreal they’ll do something new, different and sure to be strange for the forever teammates: they’ll play against each other.

“Yeah, we’re definitely talking less this week” said Jalen from Calgary’s facility when I caught up with both Philpots on Zoom prepping to call the game Saturday on TSN.

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For siblings who have spent their entire life as a package deal, draft night signified a split in the road. One went East, the other stayed West but that hasn’t stopped both Tyson and Jalen from using what is essentially a carbon copy of their own skill set on film to get ready for opponents in what feels like the closest thing to a real life simulation you could find in the ever accelerating world of artificial intelligence.

“Jalen and I run the same for the most part and we trained together for a long time so I’ll see something he did to get open and make a mental note,” Tyson said. “When I play the same team on film I already feel like I know how to get open because I’ve watched him (Jalen) do it so it gives me confidence to know I can do the same.”

The Philpots even go so far as to watch each others’ game film and devise ways to one up each other’s real time baseline testing of route theory, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows their competitive nature.

With 10-12 people in attendance from Mom to Dad, grandparents and beyond. the family will break bread at some point Friday “as long as Jalen is up for it,” according to Tyson, who volunteered his ever-developing local expertise to find the right spot for the Philpot family dinner.

Then they’ll do what they’ve always done together, and will do apart Saturday night for the first time. Stretch, warm up, put on the uniform, wait for the anthem to finish then catch footballs at an elite level.

They knew this day would come. It’s been looming since draft night sent their paths in opposite directions, but now it’s here and the reality is unavoidable as Jalen acknowledged during the untraditional joint Zoom call for weekend opponents.

“Being on the same team, it was always good because we’d give each other immediate feedback and it felt like we could make each other better in-game,” Jalen said. “It’s tough without that now but it’s forced us to do more developing on our own.”

For Tyson, he’s had more opportunity thanks to superior health and fit in Montreal. A team that quickly saw his potential and elevated his targets alongside fellow standout National Kaion Julien-Grant, who has grown into much more than just another Canadian passport holding receiver for his Philpot teammate.

Teammates as they grew up and played at the University of Calgary and here at the 2022 CFL Combine, Tyson and Jalen Philpot meet as opponents this week in Montreal (Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca)

“If I was having an off game growing up all the way until the end of college, Jalen would pick me up by making a great play. When I would see him do something special it inspired me to push myself further and Kaion has become that player for me now,” Tyson said.

With a fan base that has quickly come to adore Tyson, one has to wonder what type of reception Jalen will get at Percival Molson Stadium in Week 5. Sure, he’s a Calgary Stampeder looking to end Montreal’s undefeated start to the season, which under normal circumstances should warrant the usual road crowd treatment. But these are not normal circumstances, so what does Tyson expect when his higher drafted brother makes a catch?

“At the Grey Cup, Jalen met a lot of my teammates and they’re always asking about him but I know they won’t give him anything easy just because he’s my brother. I know Montreal fans will treat him right. We’re both just trying to come into the game level headed and get the win,” Tyson said.

Bragging rights on the line yet again, this time in the CFL standings. We can only hope this is the first of many Philpot matchups for what is a uniquely Canadian game inside the game of brotherly love.

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