Why there’s been no official recruits for 2016
The University of Ottawa has fielded a football team since 1881, and in the ensuing 135 years there has been an illustrious history for the gridiron Garnet and Grey.
Recruiting is a key facet of all collegiate sports and can be incredibly exciting, but in football, it’s a whole different level. Fundamentally speaking, the next great Gee-Gees team all depends on solid recruiting.
Every late winter and spring, fans on both sides of the border fixate on recruiting announcements, in hopes of seeing what new talent has been injected into their favourite team for the coming season.
Many schools publish write ups and hold press conferences to drum up excitement, feeding their fans all the information they need on their new addition. For Gee-Gees fans, it has been radio silence for not only this recruiting year, but for many years past.
One of the reasons behind the quiet football recruiting is the concurrent basketball season that demands attention.
“Our basketball teams have been so good that we get into that mode in January and February when we’re really focusing on basketball and trying to pump them up and that’s really the time that a lot of these recruits are coming through,” said Jen Elliott, the University of Ottawa’s Sports Information Officer.
This season alone, the Gee-Gees have had a number of big name recruits that have not been announced by the university.
Headlining this year’s crop of new players is arguably the top quarterback recruit in the nation in Michael Arruda.
The Gatineau native elected to stay close to home and try his hand at becoming the next elite quarterback at the U of O.
In the case of Arruda, the announcement of his recruitment has hit a wall that Sports Services places before going public on all recruits—the athlete needs to be accepted to the school first.
“With all recruits, we always wait until they’ve been accepted into school,” said Elliott.
“With Mike (Arruda), he wasn’t in school yet. Jamie (Barresi) gave me the heads up that it was coming and was excited about it, but from Mike’s point of view, he didn’t want to say anything about it until he was in school for sure.”
A number of other high-level recruits have been announced by Canadian football blogs, or just simply the athletes themselves.
For example, Joshua Bailey, a quarterback that will likely be converted into a receiver is a solid athletic recruit coming out of Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ont.
The Montreal native impressed in prep school and landed a place on the Gee-Gees going forward after throwing for 16 touchdowns and running for 14 in a nine game season.
Another significant recruit the Gee-Gees have landed is Parker Bolton, a 6’5” 255 lb. defensive lineman returning to Canada after cutting his teeth for two years at Saginaw Valley State University.
Bolton was redshirted on the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division II squad, and took to Instagram to announce his new opportunity with the Gees.
Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi likes to play his cards close, because nothing is certain with incoming recruits.
Canadian university football as a whole deals with issues in retaining players year-to-year. The Gees have particularly struggled retaining players on their roster thanks to some shaky recent history.
The 2012 season was demoralizing for the team, and resulted in a number of players deciding to not return to the team as Barresi took over for 2013.
Another contributing factor that adds to the hesitation of announcing and parading new recruits has been the recent decommitting of top players.
Just prior to the start of Barresi’s tenure, a landmark quarterback recruit in Theo Deezar committed to the U of O and then shortly after decommitted in favour of the University of Manitoba.
A similar situation unfolded with one of Barresi’s first blue chip recruits, the team promoted their recruitment of Vincent Alarie-Tardif, a top running back and CEGEP Division 1 MVP.
Alarie-Tardif instead decommitted to join defending national champion Laval, leaving the Gees scorned and embarrassed for a second time.
“I think we’ve been burned recently with big recruits decommitting, timing with basketball, and our unwritten rule of making sure those guys are actually in school before we announce anything,” said Elliott.
With all of these factors at work and the present issue that the football team is currently without a recruiting coordinator, some may look at the Gees and see them falling behind other schools.
According to CanadaFootballChat.com, the Gees have under 15 committed recruits for next year—meanwhile most other schools have over 20.
Although there may be a recruiting coordinator hired in the coming weeks, it won’t likely affect this year’s class.
While the Gee-Gees are still capable of being one of the best teams in the nation, their peculiar style of recruiting still baffles many.
In the end, it all comes down to what the players do once they hit the field, the hype fades and the true player is there for all to see—that is, if we actually know who they are.
Graphic: Kim Wiens.