2014 Football Team Preview: Regina Rams

Source: Braden Konschuh, Regina Sports Info

2013 regular season record: 2-6
2013 regular season standings:5th, Canada West
2013 playoff record: DNQ

After graduating 20 fifth-year players and losing another two to the professional ranks following the 2012 campaign, the University of Regina Rams fielded a youthful roster last season and ended up missing the postseason with a 2-6 Canada West record.

The Rams will be a much more experienced team in 2014, returning nine starters on the offensive side of the ball and eight defensive starters. All-Canadian wide receiver Addison Richards leads the way for an offence that will be controlled by quarterback Cayman Shutter, while cornerback Tevaughn Campbell was also an All-Canadian last season and will be counted upon to lead a talented and athletic defensive backfield for the Rams.

Training camp starts Aug. 21 and leads up to a home non-conference game against Manitoba on Aug. 29. The Rams open the Canada West schedule against UBC on Sept. 5 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Quote from head coach:

“Canada West is a tough, physical league and there won’t be any easy games on the schedule. But we’ve got guys coming back with a year of experience under their belts and we feel that we’ve shored up key positions with some quality recruits we’ve got coming in. I think we’ll be able to run the ball more consistently on offence this year and defensively, we’ll be aggressive and have the ability to switch up our coverages. We want to make the playoffs this year and I think we’ve got a real chance to challenge for the Hardy Cup.” – Frank McCrystal

Head Coach:

- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2014): 16th (31st including CJFL era)
- Career regular season record in CIS: 57-62-1
- Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 64-73-1



OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 9

Key returning players:

• SB Jared Janotta was a Canada West all-star in 2012 and enters his fifth and final season of CIS eligibility. Janotta has had 44 catches in each of the past two seasons and needs 42 more to surpass former teammate Mark McConkey as the conference’s all-time receptions leader.

• OL Kyle Paterson broke into the team’s starting lineup last year and was a mainstay at left guard before missing the final two weeks of the conference schedule due to injury. Paterson was selected by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL Draft back in May, but will return for his fourth season of eligibility this year and will be counted upon to help anchor the line.

• OL Aaron Picton entered 2013 as the only returning starter on the line, but missed half the year due to an injury. The versatile Picton – who made starts at right tackle, right guard, and centre last season – is expected to return to full strength and is considered a solid prospect for the 2015 CFL Draft.

• WR Addison Richards enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, earning second-team All-Canadian status after leading the Rams in receptions (46) and finishing second on the team in receiving yards (614). Like Picton, Richards will likely be a high selection in the 2015 CFL Draft.

• QB Cayman Shutter returns for his second year with the Rams and his final season of CIS eligibility. Shutter led Canada West and was third in the CIS with 180 pass completions last season, the second-highest total in school single-season history. Shutter also piled up 2428 passing yards and 13 touchdown passes despite missing the team’s Week 6 win over Alberta with an injury.

Key recruits or transfers:

• OL Tristain Hoath (Saskatoon Hilltops) is expected to make an immediate impact on the line for the Rams. He was a Prairie Football Conference all-star and a CJFL All-Canadian last season as a left tackle for the Hilltops.

• RB Atlee Simon (Thom Collegiate) attended Harvest City Christian Academy in Regina but played high school football with the Trojans. With two-year starting running back Michael Kiapway not returning, Simon could see significant playing time for the Rams his first season on campus.

Key losses: RB Michael Kiapway, SB Mark McConkey, WR Kolten Solomon



DEFENCE

Number of returning starters: 8

Key returning players:

• DB Tevaughn Campbell was a second-team All-Canadian last season, leading the team with six passes defended and adding 26 solo tackles, eight assisted tackles, two tackles for loss including a sack, and a pair of fumble recoveries. Also electric on kick returns, Campbell still has three seasons of eligibility remaining with the Rams.

• LB Connor Ketchen emerged as the team’s starting middle linebacker last year in his second season on campus. Ketchen finished second on the Rams with 41 total tackles and had a 59-yard interception return in Week 1 at Saskatchewan – the fifth longest in school history.

• LB Michael Stefanovic was a bright spot for the Rams last season, taking over at outside linebacker despite only being in his first season of eligibility after redshirting in 2012. All Stefanovic did was lead the Rams in total tackles (44) and lead Canada West outright with eight tackles for loss during the conference schedule, including three sacks in Week 3 alone.

• DL Ryan Wellman is currently on the practice roster of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but the Rams feel they have a good chance at getting the fifth-year defensive end back for his final CIS season. Wellman has 89 tackles, 18 tackles for loss including 6 sacks, and five pass deflections over his four seasons with the Rams.

Key recruits or transfers:

• Coming off a fine OVFL season, DB Kadeem Ellis (Toronto Thunder) is expected to make an immediate impact for the Rams. Ellis will bolster an athletic defensive backfield that loses only one starter from 2013.

• LB Zack McEachern (Calgary Colts) could challenge for a starting position at linebacker. McEachern was an All-Canadian last year for the Colts and will have three seasons of CIS eligibility at the U of R.

Key losses: DB Brady Aulie, DL Logan Brooks, DB Ryan Filyk, DL Calvin Smith



SPECIAL TEAMS

Key returning players:

• KR Tevaughn Campbell set a school record with 369 punt return yards during the conference schedule, 75 of which came on the fourth-longest return in U of R history in Week 2 against Calgary. Campbell also had a 71-yard kickoff return in Week 1 at Saskatchewan and ended up averaging 10.9 yards per punt return and 25.8 yards per kickoff return.

Key recruits or transfers:

• P/K Andrew Fabian is expected to stabilize the team’s kicking game with the graduation of Taylor Wandler. Fabian, who comes to the Rams after kicking for the Calgary Colts for five seasons, will have two years of CIS eligibility at the U of R.

Key losses: P/K Taylor Wandler

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