Former Clansmen step inside the Lion’s den

WEB-Football Players-Natasha Wahid

As of July 8, 2013, three former football Clansmen have been signed to the BC Lions’ practice roster: Keynan Parker, Kyle Miller and Andrew Marshall. These three happen to be the only non-import (Canadian) players on the Lions’ practice roster, meaning that they act as opposition for the Lion’s players during practices, but can still be signed by any team to their actual roster.

Current players, Chandler Gayton (defensive back) and Janne Lahtinen (quarterback) seem to hold their former teammates in pretty high regard. “All of them work hard,” the two said, almost simultaneously.

Gayton continued, “Andrew and Kyle especially were just great leaders on the team. It’s too bad having them leave, but all of us expect all three of them to do well. Keynan was only here for a year so we didn’t get to see how he interacted with the team as much, but Andrew especially was a motor that drove the team last year.”

Marshall is the latest Clansman to sign with the Lions; but with nine sacks during the 2012 season and the title of second team all-star in the GNAC (Great Northwest Athletic Conference), Marshall is bringing plenty to the table.

“Looking at his film, he’s a high motor kid, meaning he doesn’t stop . . . he plays a position of need. Any time you can get a kid who can rush the passer and get sacks, they pay those guys a lot of money,” said James Colzie, the Clan’s new Defensive Coordinator. “They pay those guys a lot of money,” he repeated.

With 72 total tackles last season, former SFU Defensive Back, Kyle Miller, was the first of the three to sign with the BC Lions on June 24. According to Colzie, Miller has been a constant presence at the Clan’s summer workout sessions.

“Kyle’s gonna work hard, that’s his mojo. He’s gonna work hard, he’s gonna be in the right spot, he’s gonna be on time, actually he’ll be early. He’ll be early to everything. He’s gonna work his butt off. I mean, we had our camp two weeks ago and he was out here working out after the kids were done.”

Just after Miller, on June 25, Parker, son of legendary Lion, James “Quick” Parker, added his name to the Lions’ practice roster after a brief run with the Montreal Alouettes. Parker was a high school sports hero at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby before heading to Oregon State to play football.

In pursuit of more playing time and the opportunity to have a hand in both offense and defense, Parker returned home to Simon Fraser for his final college season.

“Keynan looks the part. He did a good job on the pro day. BC took him. Basically, they took him off what he did that day out there. And he looked good, he looked real good. He ran his drills good. I actually did the drills for him. Polite kid, great kid,” said Colizie.

The success stories of Parker, Miller, and Marshall come in the wake of the Clan’s first real foray into Division II NCAA waters.

According to Colzie, worries about how SFU’s new status will affect recruiting are unfounded. “Everybody feels, in this city, that since we’re NCAA now, that we’re just gonna be recruiting American kids . . . well, I am American, but some of our best players are guys that literally grew up in Vancouver. Even though we are playing in the NCAA, you can still be a Canadian kid and succeed here.”

This is certainly true for the three BC natives whose names are now prominently displayed in orange on the Lions’ website. It’s safe to assume they won’t be the last Canadian Clansmen to make good.

After transferring from Eastern Washington University, Chandler Gayton is quick to point out that while the depth at SFU may not be comparable to a Division I NCAA team, the talent levels aren’t lacking in the least. “There’s definitely the talent here,” Gayton said. “I mean you look at the players we have like Lamar and Jamal, Kyle Kawamoto, all the receivers we have, speed-wise, they match up with a lot of the receivers [at Division I levels].”

James Colzie put it simply. “You really just want opportunity. Once you get the opportunity, then, however it works, that’s just how it goes. Just the opportunity to play professional football, that’s all they [the players] want. If they do and it doesn’t work out, they can at least say that they got that chance.”