If you're a hardcore CFL fan who's having a tough time relating to the world of CIS football, here are a few direct connections between the two leagues to give you a reason to tune in to TSN's coverage of the Vanier Cup (Saturday, Noon Eastern).
The CIS is the CFL's primary source of homegrown talent and there are a number of pro prospects involved in Saturday's game. By no means is this a complete list of potential CFLers but here are a dozen Dinos and Gaels with a decent chance of one day being drafted.
1. Shomari Williams (DE, Queen's, draft eligible in 2010): The CIS playoffs have seen this transfer from the University of Houston emerge as arguably the best defensive player in the country and a likely Top Ten pick in the draft.
2. Anthony Parker (SB, Calgary, 2011): The son of the former CFL running back of the same name is as explosive a player as there is anywhere in CIS football. Parker's speed and balance make him a threat whenever he has the ball.
3. Kirby Fabien (OT, Calgary, 2012): This 6'6'', 290 lbs. sophomore was asked to replace Montreal Alouettes 2009 first rounder Dylan Steenbergen in the Dinos lineup this season and, remarkably, provided an upgrade at the position. The 19 year-old Calgarian spurned a number of NCAA Division 1 offers to stay at home.
4. Matt O'Donnell (OT, Queen's, 2011): This 2009 All-Canadian selection combines a well-proportioned 6'9'', 315 lbs. frame with surprising agility for a man of his size. He is one of the best offensive tackle prospects in the land.
5. Linden Gaydosh (DT, Calgary, 2013): At 18 years of age, the 6'4'', 320 lbs. Gaydosh is already a dominant run stopper at the university level, so much so that his performance earned him the Peter Gorman Trophy as the 2009 CIS Rookie of the Year
6. Nathan Coehoorn (WR, Calgary, 2011): Two years of junior football experience prior to his enrolment at U. Of C. have made this big, talented two-time All-Canadian one of the more polished receivers in the CIS ranks.
7. Matt Walter (RB, Calgary, 2011): There are limited opportunities for Canadian running backs in the CFL but Walter is a very coachable individual who does everything well. At the very least, he should be able to find employment as a valuable role player.
8. Devan Sheahan (SB, Queen's, 2010): The son of Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan is sometimes overshadowed by his prolific fifth year teammate Scott Valberg but this 6'3'', 205 lbs. receiver has the size, speed, hands, and instincts to earn a look at the next level.
9. Chris Smith (LB, Queen's, 2010): As an athletic and versatile 225 lbs. linebacker, Smith is an intriguing CFL prospect. At the very least, his skill set should allow him to compete on special teams.
10. Steven Lumbala (RB, Calgary, 2013): The younger brother of B.C. Lions fullback Rolly and former St. Mary's 1000-yard rusher Jacques is likely the most talented football player in the family.
11. Anthony Woodson (SB/RB Calgary, 2010): The Dinos' best 2010 Draft prospect won't play on Saturday. In fact, foot and shoulder injuries have held him out all season. Nonetheless, he'll be healthy by E-Camp time and his resume should be enough to earn him an invite.
12. Josh Prinsen (OT, Queen's, 2013): A veteran laden Gaels offensive line has limited the playing time of this 6'7'', 300 lbs. freshman but, with three starters set to graduate, that will change in 2010. Prinsen was one of the most heavily recruited players in the country last year and, as his strength improves, he should become an impact player.
CIS rules permit players to be drafted, sign pro contracts, and even attend professional training camps without compromising their remaining eligibility. As a result, a handful of players participating in Saturday's game are property of CFL clubs and have already had a small taste of life in the big leagues.
• DE Osie Ukwuoma was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the fifth round (40th overall) of the 2009 CFL Draft.
• OL Dan Bederman was undrafted but attended the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 2009 training camp.
• Injured LB Thaine Carter was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the sixth round (45th overall) in the 2009 CFL Draft.
• WR Scott Valberg is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats negotiation list.
• CB Jimmy Allin was undrafted but he holds the CFL E-Camp record for the fastest 20-yard shuttle time (3.97 seconds, set in 2009).
• LB Andrea Bonaventura was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos in the third round (20th overall) in the 2009 CFL Draft.
• DE/LS Andrew Obrecht was undrafted but attended the Montreal Alouettes training camp in 2009.
• OG Reed Alexander attended the Calgary Stampeders training camp as a junior invitee in 2005.
A number of participants in Saturday's game are relatives of current or former CFL players.
• QB Eric Glavic's brother, Sasha, is a DB for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
• RB Steven Lumbala's brother, Rolly, is a FB for the B.C. Lions.
• FB James Harris' grandfather is CFL Hall of Fame LB Wayne Harris. James' uncle is former Toronto Argonaut and Hamilton Tiger-Cat LB Cooper Harris.
• SB Anthony Parker is the son of former B.C. Lions RB Anthony Parker.
• WR Taylor Nill's father is Dinos head coach Blake Nill, who played in the CFL for Montreal, Hamilton, and Winnipeg.
• Backup OL Sean Gott is the younger brother of Calgary Stampeders OL Jon Gott.
• MLB Andrea Bonaventura's brother, Joe, is a former Calgary Stampeders LB.
• LB Julian Simmerling's brother, Christian, is a former Calgary Stampeders DB.
• Backup DE Martin Kalonji is the younger brother of Edmonton Eskimos OL Patrick Kabongo.
• DB Wyatt Getty is the grandson of former Edmonton Eskimos QB (and former Alberta premier) Don Getty. Wyatt's father, Dale played for the Ottawa Rough Riders.
• Backup DB Thomas Spoletini's father, Tom, played OL for the Calgary Stampeders. Thomas' uncle, Tony, played FB for the Stampeders and the Edmonton Eskimos.
• Injured RB/SB Anthony Woodson is the son of former Calgary Stampeder and Ottawa Rough Rider LB Anthony Woodson.
• Backup QB Justin Chapdelaine is the son of current B.C. Lions receivers coach Jacques Chapdelaine, who played in the CFL for B.C., Montreal, Hamilton, and Calgary.