By and large, the training camp stage of the 2021 Canadian Football League season has turned out to be a pretty successful time for Global players from Australia and New Zealand.
Of the eight Australasian players who were originally drafted in the CFL Global Draft back in April, five of them had made the final cut as of the 10 pm (ET) roster deadline on Friday, July 30.
Most notable of them is Jake Ford, who was drafted first overall in the Global Draft by the B.C. Lions. The Australian fills the dual role of Punter/Kicker and played his college ball in the US at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. The Lions’ coaching staff is very high on him, and as such, it’s understood he has a legitimate crack at nailing down a regular starting spot.
If he does, he will be taking over from fellow Aussie Josh Bartel who was the Lions’ Punter in 2019 after stints with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Another Aussie who made his presence felt during training camp is Cody Grace. The punter, who played college football at Arkansas State, was a first-round pick and seventh overall by the Calgary Stampeders. He was the first player in Arkansas State history to be a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award as the NCAA’s top punter in 2017.
Australian Joel Whitford was one of four picks by the Tiger-Cats in the Global Draft and he has cemented a spot on their active roster. The Punter started his American college career at Santa Barbara City College in southern California, before transferring to the Washington Huskies. Whitford specializes in the end-over-end ‘rugby’ punt which has become quite the rage in the NFL in recent years.
And rounding out the Aussies who’ve made the cut is Kicker Joseph Zema. He was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes. Zema played his college football in the States at Incarnate Word University in Texas. In 2019, he played for the San Antonio Commanders in the short-lived AAF.
There was also one New Zealander in the mix to nail down a spot as a Global player. Defensive lineman Misiona Aiolupotea-pei was drafted by Edmonton and he has found himself on the Elks’ practice roster. Aiolupotea-pei played his college ball at Washington State.
There were three other Australians who were drafted by teams back in April. Punter Max Duffy was cut by the Toronto Argonauts and Defensive End Matt Leo was cut by Edmonton.
The eighth player in the mix, Punter Arryn Sippos was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. However, the Bombers say he hasn’t signed a contract with them, and consequently, he wasn’t eligible for a roster spot.
According to the CFL’s roster stipulations for the 2021 season, teams can opt to dress 43 or 44 players this season. A total of two of the players for opening week must be Quarterbacks. A third QB can be dressed but he must be listed at another position and follow the guidelines of that position (ex. listed as a WR). Rosters must consist of a minimum of 20 Nationals and a maximum of 20 Americans, with two Quarterbacks and one Global. Of the 10 practice roster players, there must always be a National. Up to three Global players may be on the practice roster above and beyond the 10 players (salary is off the cap).
A new tweak for this season is a CFL practice roster, which will only be used while border restrictions are in place. Each club must carry five players broken down as follows: one American OL, one American DB or LB, one American REC or RB, one American DL, one specialist or Global.
If a claim is made for a player on this list, he must go to his new team (his existing club cannot keep him from going as they can on the regular PR). If a team loses a player from its CFLPR, they must replace him within 7 days. The original team has the option of recalling the player if he’s no longer on a team’s active roster; the original team also holds the player’s rights beyond this season.