Western Players Poised to Break Out

 

With the 2018 Canadian Football League season ready to kick off, I’ve got a whole lot on my mind, including watching some players who I think might be somewhat underrated; but have the potential to develop into big-time stars. I also asked my Twitter following for some dark horse players to watch this season. I’ve included some of those players in the following team-by-team breakdown:

West Division

Saskatchewan

Players to watch: Caleb Holley (WR), Nick Marshall (DB), Crezdon Butler (DB).

When you think of the Riders’ vaunted receiving corps; automatically it’s Naaman Roosevelt and Duron Carter. Holley played 13 games last season and hauled in 39 catches for 608 yards and had five touchdowns.

Twitter follower @_Elvis1979, touted cornerback Nick Marshall. Twitter follower @on_roughriders also mentioned defensive back Crezdon Butler, who recorded 39 defensive tackles and two sacks throughout the 15 games he played in his rookie CFL season.

Winnipeg

Players to watch: Timothy Flanders (RB), Rashaun Simonise (WR), Nic Demski (WR), Jovan Santos-Knox (LB).

I loved the way the Bombers found a way to get Flanders on the field with feature-back Andrew Harris. It reminded me so much of what the Argos did with Pinball Clemons and Robert Drummond. I think there’s a tremendous upside for Flanders. Paul LaPolice – offensive coordinator and receivers coach, is creative enough to make this combination of Harris and Flanders something really special.

Twitter follower @Jpan85 also mentioned receiver Rashaun Simonise, selected 12th overall in the CFL Draft this year,

That’s high praise, indeed.

@Branden54 recommended receiver Nic Demski and linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox.

Demski did well with Saskatchewan in only nine games. Santos-Knox had quality stats last year, recording 47 defensive tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble. He also had 19 special teams’ tackles.

Calgary

Players to watch: Tunde Adeleke (DB), Reggie Begelton (WR), Terry Williams (RB).

Adeleke, a second-year player from Carleton University, recorded 15 defensive tackles, 1 sack and 13 special teams tackles in 17 games as a rookie. He was also effective on 26 punt returns; scoring two touchdowns.

@johnmboulton gave Adeleke a lot of love and said he’s becoming a fan favourite with Stamps’ fans.

I liked Begelton’s work in nine games, recording 22 receptions, 304 yards and one touchdown. The Stamps’ receiving corps had various injuries and Begelton made good use of his opportunity.

Williams will get a good look as the feature back after playing in five games last season.

Edmonton

Players to watch: D’haquille Williams (SB), Alex Bazzie (DL).

Williams has size, standing 6’3” and 225 pounds. In his rookie season he had 46 catches for 715 yards and four touchdowns (13 games played). The Eskimos’ roster has veteran receivers such as Derel Walker and Vidal Hazelton. Without Brandon Zylstra however, who signed in the NFL in the off-season (led the CFL in receiving yards last year), it makes Williams that much more important. Bazzie is in his fifth season in the CFL, but in that time he’s amassed 32 sacks. Alex played in only six games last season after returning from the NFL, where he contributed three sacks. I think he can be one of the premier rush ends in the league this season.

BC

Players to watch: Shaq Johnson (WR), Davon Coleman (DT).

Johnson caught 30 passes for 521 yards and had two touchdowns last season. The Lions’ receiving corps has standouts Brian Burnham and Emmanuel Arceneaux, but Johnson, who spent much of the 2016 season on the practice roster, really developed last year in his first full season of active playing time.

Coleman had 41 defensive tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and 13 quarterback pressures last year with Hamilton. He was acquired by the Lions in May. He should be interesting to watch alongside Odell Willis, who was also acquired in a separate trade.

Make sure to bookmark CFLPA.com to catch Perry’s synopses of the CFL’s Eastern division (COMING SOON)!

 

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