Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Elks: eight players to watch in the preseason clash

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

With four games on the preseason schedule Friday, players on the bubble have one last shot to crack their team’s roster.

Dozens of future CFL stars will be battling for their jobs today but with so many new prospects on every roster, it can be difficult for fans to know who they should have their eyes on.

As always, 3DownNation has done the work for you. We’ve published a list of players to watch ahead of every preseason game in 2022, giving fans — whether in-stadium or watching on TV — an easy cheat sheet to enhance their viewing experience.

At 9:00 p.m EST, the Calgary Stampeders will take on the Edmonton Elks to renew their Battle of Alberta rivalry. If you are heading to Commonwealth Stadium, here are the players you should be watching.

Calgary Stampeders

Photo courtesy: Calgary Stampeders

Felton Davis III, REC, Michigan State

Davis made just one catch in his CFL preseason debut last week, but it was an outstanding 32-yard diving grab that would have made the highlight reel if the game were televised. The big six-foot-three, 210-pound target showed a whole lot of that in college, with a reputation for dominance at the catch point and an absurd catch radius. A lack of game-breaking speed or quickness was the knock on Davis, but he’ll be a definite size mismatch with the waggle to his advantage.

Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida

In the world of CFL football, McClain is an oddity. What else would you call a 33-year-old rookie with 92 games of NFL experience under his belt, trying to take one last kick at the pro football can? The 2011 third-round pick has 133 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in his NFL career, but sticking around as a middle-aged 326-pound nose tackle in the CFL will require one hell of a preseason performance.

Baer Hunter, OL, Appalachian State

With limited Canadian depth up front, there is a chance the Stampeders start three American offensive linemen at some point in 2022. If they do, Baer Hunter is my favourite candidate. The converted defensive lineman played guard and centre in college but is easily athletic enough to try his hand at tackle. A smooth mover who rolls his hips through contact, he allowed just five sacks in his entire college career and could be truly special in a league where his slight frame and lack of length won’t be viewed as disqualifying.

George Obinna, DE, Sacramento State

There simply aren’t enough good pass rushers to go around these days, but Calgary inked one of the most prolific in the FCS in George Obinna. The first-team All-Big Sky defensive end amassed a ridiculous 33.5 career sacks, including 14 his senior season, thanks to an aggressive play style and relentless motor. Obinna needs more polish to his game, but that won’t stop him from being disruptive in the preseason.

Edmonton Elks

Screengrab courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Enock Makonzo, DB, Coastal Carolina

Edmonton traded away the first overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft to get their hands on Makonzo, a player Chris Jones believes is perfectly suited to play weakside linebacker with the new athletic demands of the narrower hash marks. The versatile Canadian defensive back was a difference-maker in college for the Chanticleers and could be a chess piece in the Elks’ new system. He seems to have fallen behind fellow rookie Wesly Appolon on the depth chart due to a training camp injury, but I can’t imagine that lasts for long.

Kai Locksley, QB, UTEP

After the Elks brought eight quarterbacks to camp, just four remain in the mix for a job under centre and Locksley would appear to be the unlikely survivor. Given the team’s desire to add an athletic option, he shouldn’t have been overlooked. The lanky six-foot-four, 210-pound pivot has blazing speed and unique escapability, while offering some positional versatility due to his stint as a receiver with the Miami Dolphins. The starting battle between Nick Arbuckle and Taylor Cornelius is still up in the air, but Friday could also determine if Locksley can stick around on the practice squad.

J-Min Pelley, OL/DT, Calgary

Chris Jones seems to be exploring all options when it comes to Edmonton’s supplemental draft behemoth, playing Pelley on both sides of the line. The six-foot-six, 350-pounder is a raw lump of clay to develop at either position, but where his best fit is going forward is an open question. He’s listed on defence for this one after seeing time at guard a week ago.

Scott Hutter, DB, Wilfrid Laurier

A quietly solid depth player over the past two years, Hutter was all over the field in the preseason opener, making seven defensive tackles, two special teams tackles, and an interception. Edmonton seems determined to start an American at safety, with either Matt Elam or converted receiver Duron Carter the likeliest to fill the role, but Hutter is a rising star that has given them something to think about. Still just 24 years old, he could well be the future for the Elks on the back end.

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.