Did you know that Brad Sinopoli used to play quarterback?
Whether it’s TSN’s play-by-play colour commentators or a large percentage of fans in R-Nation and across the league, many seem to get hung up on Sinopoli’s past and fail to acknowledge that he’s become one of the game’s most sure-handed receivers who averages a first down (11.3 yards) per catch.
Yes, it’s true, growing up, the Peterborough native did indeed play quarterback for Crestwood Secondary School when he first got into football. As an interesting aside, back in the day, my high school team. the St. Mark Lions, played the Sinopoli-led Crestwood team in a pre-season jamboree — I honestly can’t remember who won.
Following his time at Crestwood, Sinopoli went on to star with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees program. During his university career, Sinopoli set Gee-Gee records for passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns in a single season. In 2010, Sinopoli’s senior year, the Gee-Gees advanced to the Yates Cup, but lost by a single point 26-25 on a last-second field goal. Although the season ended in disappointment for his team, Sinopoli’s individual year ended on a high when he was named the OUA’s MVP and won the Hec Crighton award as U Sports’ Most Outstanding Player.
The six-foot-four, 215-pounder went on to be drafted in the fourth round, 29th overall by the Calgary Stampeders in 2011. Sinopoli was taken as a quarterback and that’s initially where he played for Calgary, earning a roster spot as the team’s third-string QB and field goal holder.
By 2013, it became apparently that due to the Stamps’ depth at the quarterback position, Sinopoli would have to switch positions to see the field. He put in the time and effort needed to convert to being a receiver.
Sinopoli’s first game as a receiver came on July 12, 2013 against Montreal; he finished the contest with five receptions for 81 yards. Over the next two seasons, Sinopoli showcased a knack for running polished routes while playing 26 games as a receiver with Calgary, making 54 catches for 614 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite being a part of Calgary’s 2014 Grey Cup winning team, Sinopoli did not play in the playoffs due to a broken collarbone sustained while catching a touchdown pass in October.
When Sinopoli hit the free agent market in February 2015, Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Marcel Desjardins wasted no time in bringing the Canadian receiver back to his old stomping grounds. The Sinopoli signing was one of many key additions that overhauled Ottawa’s receiving group, laying the groundwork for three Grey Cup appearances in four seasons.
To say Sinopoli has thrived in Ottawa would be an understatement. Not only did he help the Redblacks win the 2016 Grey Cup, but he also put up four straight 1000-plus yard seasons (2015-2018) and cemented his legacy amongst the all-time Ottawa greats.
Currently, Sinopoli has the fourth-most receiving yards in Ottawa football history, trailing only Tony Gabriel, Whit Tucker and Bobby Simpson. In 85 games with the Redblacks, Sinopoli has made 455 receptions for 5,127 yards and fourteen touchdowns.
Last season was an uncharacteristically down year for Sinopoli. After making 116 catches in 2018, an Ottawa single season record, the Canadian receiver managed 72 in 2019. Some of that was due to being slowed by injuries, yet he still suited up for 17 of 18 games, but more significantly, Sinopoli dealt with substandard quarterback play and an offensive committee led by Joe Paopao that seemed to forget he existed for games at times.
That’s not hyperbole, either. The Redblacks inexplicably had six games where the team’s most sure-handed receiver was targeted less than four times. No wonder he had some awful stat lines.
Still, 2019 wasn’t all bad for the fifth Redblack on 3DownNation‘s top 100 list. Not only did Sinopoli pass Gabriel for most receptions in Ottawa history, currently sitting at 455 to Gabriel’s 444, but he also reminded defences that even if he may not possess elite speed, few are better at working themselves into soft spots of a defence when coming out of the slot.
Last November, Sinopoli signed a two-year extension with the Redblacks that will see him remain in Ottawa until at least the end of the 2021 season. With more complimentary weapons around him and now paired with an offensive guru — Paul LaPolice — instead of a committee, there’s no reason Sinopoli should not be back amongst the league’s 1,000-yard receivers.
3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions