Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bleeding Tricolour: Gaels receivers Ioannides, Valberg sign CFL contracts

Four members of the Queen's Golden Gaels offence have signed pro contracts for next season.

The word out of Kingston is two-time all-Canadian Scott Valberg and fellow receiver Chris Ioannides have signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and B.C. Lions as free agents, respectively. Two members of the offensive line which protected quarterback Dan Brannagan so well, left guard Vince DeCivita and right tackle Jon Koidis, have signed to play in a league in Switzerland, beginning in January.

There should be more to come abut this from both Queen's and the Kingston media in the next couple days.

The Vanier Cup was nice, but it makes it even more special to hear coach Pat Sheahan's players have earned opportunities to play more football. Speaking as a grad, there is happiness that that DeCivita, Ioannides, Koidis and Valberg get to play a little more football. Being able to point out graduates who have moved on to the next level should also be a recruiting chip.

A decade ago, Queen's CFL representation consisted of Jock Climie and Brad Elberg — two players in the entire league. Now almost every team in the league has at least one ex-Gael.

Defensive end-linebacker Shomari Williams is projected as a first-round pick in the 2010 CFL draft. I am no expert on these matters, but slotback Devan Sheahan has the size and speed to likely warrant a look. Outside linebackers Alex Daprato and Chris Smith were each fourth-year players this past season, so they are draft-eligible. Both are pretty heady players who play a kind a hybrid linebacker-DB position.

Also, as observers such as the FAN 590's Mike Hogan have noted, if someone doesn't try to find a spot for cornerback-kick returner Jimmy Allin, then there's nothing real in the world anymore.

It's a nice payoff for Valberg, who appealed successfully to get a season of eligibility back so he could play this season. He ended up leading CIS in receiving for the second season in a row and also caught the touchdown passes which put Queen's ahead for good in both the Yates Cup vs. Western and the Vanier Cup against Calgary.

Ioannides — it's hard to forget the passage from a Mike Koreen column in the Kingston Whig-Standard about him being slumped, despondent, against the goal post after the 2008 playoff loss vs. Ottawa — made several catches which were just as huge in the grand scheme. He caught a pass with 3.3 seconds left to set up the winning field goal in the wild 52-49 win over Guelph in the season opener. He also caught a third-down pass on the game-winning drive in the Oct. 17 win over Western.

Both receivers played a lot of special teams this past season, which should help them in their bids to crack a CFL roster next season.

(Cross-posted to cisblog.ca.)

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