Details on U Sports athletes given option to defer CFL draft year

Photo courtesy: Josh Schaefer/Huskie Athletics/

The Canadian Football League will allow some U Sports football players to defer their draft years from 2022 to 2023 or 2023 to 2024.

As per a league spokesperson, the Canadian University Football Coaches Association (CUFCA) had a meeting following the Vanier Cup that was also attended by CFL representatives. The CUFCA submitted a proposal to the league regarding a potential amendment to draft eligibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a cancelled 2020 U Sports season.

The proposal was put forward due to the double cohort of first-year players who saw the field in U Sports for the first time in 2021. Presumably, U Sports teams want a greater number of experienced players on their rosters in 2022 and 2023 who can continue developing to potentially boost their stock ahead of the CFL draft.

The league also confirmed Dave Naylor’s report from last week that CFL general managers have approved this change “without objection.”

The CFL provided the following parameters and conditions for athletes who choose to defer their draft year:

  • The athlete must have 1 year of U Sport Eligibility remaining after their draft year (ie. able to return to school for a season after being drafted).
  • Once an athlete submits their intention to defer, it may not be rescinded.
  • Players cannot defer their draft year more than one time.
  • Any player invited to a CFL Combine (regional or national) in the current year, who chooses to defer their draft to the following year would have their invite revoked, with no guarantee that they would receive an invite the following year.

The league allowed players to opt-out of the 2021 CFL Draft following the cancellation of the U Sports season with over 75 players deferring by one year. Two of the most notable opt-outs, Waterloo quarterback Tre Ford and defensive back Tyrell Ford, are now eligible for the 2022 CFL Draft.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.