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Magnificent Seven

04/30/2020, 11:00pm PDT
By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

Seven former CJFL players were selected in the CFL draft

Photo courtesy of Gord Mellor

The CFL held its annual player draft on Thursday and seven former CJFL players heard their name called including one in the first round.

Former Edmonton Huskies offensive lineman and captain Theren Churchill was the first former CJFLer selected, chosen ninth overall by the Toronto Argonauts.   He was the second player taken by the Argos in the first round after they took receiver Dejon Brissett from Virginia with the second overall pick.  Churchill played for the Huskies from 2013-2016 before moving onto the University of Regina.

In the fifth round former Okanagan Sun defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly was selected by the Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 46th overall.   He played just one season for the Sun in 2018 leading the CJFL with eight sacks along with seven solo tackles, had three assisted stops and one knockdown.

The next former CJFL player to hear his named called was Jesse Lawson in the seventh round and 62nd overall.  The offensive lineman played for the Langley Rams in 2014 helping them to host the Canadian Bowl.   He followed his junior career up with a pair of seasons at Carlton University.

Two picks later the defending champion Blue Bombers selected another former CJFL player.  This time All-Canadian Tanner Gaskill-Cadwallader of the London Beefeaters was selected 64th overall; the last pick of the seventh round.    Last season with the Beefs the defensive back made 16 tackles, two assisted stops, had a pair of sacks, two knockdowns and intercepted three passes taking one back 52 yards for a touchdown.

In the eighth round former Langley Rams defensive lineman Brock Gowanlock was chosen 66th overall by the Montreal Alouettes.  He played the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Rams helping them to the Canadian Bowl in 2014. That year he had 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks, then had three stops in the Canadian Bowl.  He exploded in 2015 dominating the line for the Rams recording a CJFL high 14.5 sacks along with 17 tackles, had a knockdown and returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown. Those 14.5 sacks are third most in a single season.

Turned out the Alouettes weren’t done drafting former CJFL players just yet.  Three selections later they grabbed former Regina Thunder running back Colton Klassen 69th overall.    He had two very successful seasons with the Thunder.  As a rookie in 2014 he was thrust into an important position in their running attack and he finished with 294 yards on 52 carries and scored three touchdowns.  However in 2015 he was a major factor winning the Prairie Conference rushing title with 911 yards on 117 carries, scoring five touchdowns.   He was named an All-Canadian in 2015 as well making 19 receptions out of the backfield for 247 yards and two more touchdowns.

The final former CJFL star to be selected in the CFL draft on Thursday was Tom Schnitzler of the Saskatoon Hilltops.  He was taken 72nd overall by the defending Eastern Conference champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  He played all five of his junior seasons with the Hilltops and won four Canadian Bowl titles.  He had a sparkling CJFL career combining for 53 tackles, 8.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries with a touchdown, two blocked kicks, a pair of forced fumbles and four interceptions two of which were returned for touchdowns.  In his four Canadian Bowl appearances he collected 13 tackles, two sacks and had a fumble recovery.

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