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They’re young. They’re Canadian. And they’ll all have a chance to compete for a spot in our line-up.
The nine Canadian players we selected in the 2019 draft will be making their CFL debuts when rookie camp kicks off today. But before we get to see them perform in the pre-season games, we took the opportunity to learn a bit more about each of them.
Kaion Julien-Grant, wide receiver, 2nd round, 13th overall
1. Kaion was a star basketball player in high school. However, after having broken his foot, he decided to focus on football. The receiver, who has progressed at the position throughout his career, is known for his ability to stretch the field, but he says he is ready to run inside routes if that’s what the team requires of him.
2. He is following in his father’s (Karim Grant) footsteps, who played linebacker for the Alouettes in 2004. Kaion went to St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.
3. Recognized for his athletic abilities, Kaion is a natural. Although he has always been able to rely upon his physical attributes, more than anything Kaion wants to learn the subtleties to the art of being a receiver.
Nate Anderson, 2nd round, 16th overall
1. Nate played his university football at the University of Missouri, wearing the colours of the SEC Division 1 team. The SEC is the best conference in the NCAA, so that meant Nate went toe-to-toe with offensive linemen from universities like LSU, Alabama and Auburn.
2. Over the course of his two seasons in the U.S. south, he had 33 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses.
3. His ability to play either inside or outside in order to disrupt the passing game is what made him an ideal choice for the Alouettes’ defensive line. His arrival could provide support for two other young players drafted in 2017 and 2018 respectively, Fabion Foote and Bo Banner, in a role previously held by Jesse Joseph.
Samuel Thomassin, 2nd round, territorial pick
1. When selected, Samuel was patiently following the draft in a New York hotel room with Drew Desjarlais. He was in the U.S. metropolis for a try-out camp for New York Giants rookies, which he deemed to be a valuable experience.
2. He received a call from the one and only Luc Brodeur-Jourdain after his selection was announced, who took the opportunity to congratulate him and provide him with some advice. Is this the beginning of a new teacher / student relationship?
3. The former Rouge et Or o-lineman is originally from Quebec City, where his mother still lives. He eventually moved to Gatineau to live with his father, and it was while living in Gatineau that he donned the uniform of the Division 3 Griffons of the Cégep de l’Outaouais. Upon moving to Montreal he joined his brother who was playing for McGill University.
Zach Wilkinson, 3rd round, 21st overall
1. According to Kavis Reed, Zach was one of the five most talented players evaluated at try-out camps. The general manager declared that being able to draft the outside linebacker from Northern Colorado was possibly his best move in the draft.
2. He played for Mount Douglas in the Greater Victoria (B.C.) area, Canada’s top-ranked high school team.
3. He was a starter for the Northern Colorado Bears in his first year at university, but… as a defensive end! The following year, he played at his more natural outside linebacker position.
Chris Osei-Kusi, 4th round, 30th overall
1. Chris has just returned from the Cleveland Browns’ rookie try-outs. Even though he did not receive a contract, Chris is convinced that the experience taught him new techniques that will serve him well upon his arrival to Alouettes training camp.
2. The receiver is known for his optimism and his ability to see the positives in all situations. Therefore, the team’s record over the past few years is, for Chris, a source of motivation.
3. In the try-out camp held in Toronto, Chris had the fastest time in the 40-yard dash as well as having the most bench presses among the entire receivers group.
Michael Sanelli, 5th round, 39th overall
1. Montreal is Michael’s second home. He was not expecting to receive a call from the Alouettes, but he was especially happy to be able to stay in town, close to his Concordia Stingers friends. His favourite restaurant? Weinstein and Gambino’s.
2. His Toronto-based family has its share of athletes. Michael himself plays hockey, soccer and basketball, and also practices thai boxing.
3. He can also confirm that he is a master when it comes to the art of pizza preparation… specifically, Italian sausage pizza.
Jeshrun Antwi, 6th round, 48th overall
1. Originally from Ghana, Jeshrun came to Canada in 2010. His family based themselves in Toronto, then came to Montreal where they stayed for a year. During that time, Jeshrun went to Dorval-Jean-XXIII High School, where the Alouettes launched the Together at School program this year. He is VERY excited to be back in the city.
2. Before immigrating, Jeshrun played soccer and ran the 100-meter dash. He discovered football while in Canada through his teachers. He played defensive back, fullback, receiver, quarterback (where he concedes he didn’t know how to throw the ball at all, so, he strictly ran running plays) and running back.
3. His preferred position was receiver, but his coaches encouraged him to play running back if he wanted a chance to make it to the pros.
Benjamin Whiting, 7th round, 57th overall
1. The linebacker knows several members of the Alouettes, namely alumni Scott Flory and Paul Waldu, both of whom are part of the coaching staff at the University of Saskatchewan, where Benjamin played his university football.
2. At try-out camp, we asked him if he had ever been involved in a fight. He said he had been – on the field – but not often. However, off the field – because he grew up with two brothers – he said “always.”
3. Ben has a reputation for being a smart player who has a good understanding of the game, as well as opposing teams’ offensive strategies. He can be viewed as a hard-working Prairie boy..
Cody Cranston, 8th round, 66th overall
1. Cody will be rejoining his brother, Ty, who is one of the team’s defensive backs. It will mark the second time that the two brothers will have the opportunity to play together. Cody followed his brother to the University of Ottawa specifically for the chance to share the field with him.
2. Born in Winnipeg, and having lived in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario, he’s seen a lot of the country, and he’s anxious to discover his new adopted city. His father is originally from Montreal and some members of his family continue to live here.
3. Aside from football, Cody enjoys cooking. His favourite dish? The classic chicken and waffles.