I was assigned the role of writing a live blog from the sidelines during Sunday's Grey Cup game but the lack of a consistent wireless signal from Calgary's McMahon Stadium wreaked havoc with that plan. I may one day write all about my entire 2009 Grey Cup experience but not before I seek significant rehabilitation for the psychological scars I incurred. In the meantime, I'll simply congratulate the Montreal Alouettes on becoming deserving champions, the Saskatchewan Roughriders on reacting like the consummate "team" in the face of adversity, and the City of Calgary and the Calgary Stampeders for hosting what I'm told was a phenomenal week of events.
Far more enjoyable for me was the Vanier Cup experience that I had in Quebec City. The outstanding display of football by the Calgary Dinosaurs (my early favourites for 2010) and the eventual champion Queen's Golden Gaels was merely the tip of the iceberg. The organizers from Quebec City and the host team, Université Laval, made sure that everything was first rate and I'd encourage any true fan of Canadian football to attend when the Vanier Cup returns to that venue in 2010.
Now, with all of the Canadian football for 2009 in the books, let's move on. For the last two years, I have told anyone who would listen that the 2011 Canadian Football League Draft would be one of the best in recent memory in terms of the available "high end" talent. The quality of the Class of 2011 is supported by the fact that one of its members, Vaughn Martin (Western Ontario), is already playing in the National Football League after being drafted as an underclassman last spring by the San Diego Chargers.
Now it's possible that another of the CFL's prime 2011 prospects could be playing in the NFL next season as well. Junior offensive lineman Orlando Franklin (6'7", 318 lbs., University of Miami) is considering early entry to the 2010 NFL Draft. He is expected to consult with the NFL college advisory committee, a panel made up of player personnel staff from various teams, to determine in what round he could expect to be drafted before making his decision.
When Martin entered the NFL Draft in 2009, he remained in the 2011 CFL Draft pool because, had he not made an NFL roster, he still could have returned to play out his remaining CIS eligibility. On the other hand, Franklin, as an NCAA player, will forfeit his remaining college eligibility if he opts for early entry to the NFL. With the option of returning to college eliminated, Franklin would then automatically become eligible for the 2010 CFL Draft.
While the Jamaican-born, Canadian-raised, Florida-trained Franklin would instantly become the best player in the CFL's Class of 2010, his NFL aspirations would almost certainly prevent him from being the first overall pick on Draft Day.
At this moment, the odds-on favourite to earn that distinction is Washington State offensive tackle Joe Eppele. Although he's a redshirt junior, the 6'8", 306 lb. native of Vancouver has decided to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility to turn pro in 2010. With the blocking-challenged Toronto Argonauts holding the first overall pick, Eppele, the only Division 1 O-Lineman in this class who won't return to school next fall, appears to be a fit. As an aside, should Eppele ultimately be selected number one overall, he would become the fourth consecutive client of agent Darren Gill to earn that honour (following Chris Bauman in '07, Dylan Barker in '08, and Simeon Rottier in '09).