Ten Canadian prospects taking part in 2023 College Gridiron Showcase

Photo courtesy: Bob Frid/UBC Thunderbirds

Ten Canadian players are scheduled to take part in the 2023 College Gridiron Showcase (CGS) in Fort Worth, Texas from January 7-11.

The annual all-star event boasts 81 NFL alumni since its inception in 2014 and has become a marquee event on the CFL scouting calendar in recent years. A number of former first-round CFL draft picks have attended the CGS over the years, including Toronto Argonauts’ offensive lineman Peter Nicastro, Ottawa Redblacks’ defensive back Adam Auclair, Calgary Stampeders’ receiver Jalen Philpot, and Edmonton Elks’ quarterback Tre Ford.

This year, eight players from U Sports schools will be competing as part of the Desperados team: Guelph defensive back Siriman Harrison Bagayogo, Guelph receiver Clark Barnes, Laurier defensive back Patrick Burke Jr., Western offensive lineman Phillip Grohovac, UBC defensive lineman Lake Korte-Moore, Concordia receiver Jeremy Murphy, Ottawa linebacker James Peter, and Sherbrooke offensive lineman Anthony Vandal.

In addition, Canadian linebacker/safety Jonathan Sutherland from Penn State will compete as a member of the Wranglers team. Toronto punter Dante Mastrogiuseppe will participate as part of the Regulators, a specialist showcase which will take place on Sunday.

According to the Fall Edition of the CFL’s Scouting Bureau ranking, Sutherland is the highest-rated prospect in attendance after coming in at No. 10 on that list. Barnes (No. 13), Bagayogo (No. 16), and Korte-Moore (No. 20) were also featured on the Top 20 list.

Sutherland has played 58 games over five seasons at Penn State, making 137 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception. The Ottawa native was the first four-time team captain in school history and was highly active on special teams in addition to his defensive role.

Barnes had a disappointing senior season with the Gryphons, playing in four games and recording nine catches for 58 yards, but has often been limited by poor quarterbacking throughout his college career. The Brampton native has amassed 49 receptions for 650 yards and six touchdowns during his 17-game career, adding another major on the ground and 23 kick returns for 610 yards and four more scores.

Bagayogo was named a first-team All-Canadian at cornerback for a second consecutive season in 2022, establishing himself as one of U Sports’ top cover men. The Bois-des-Filion native has recorded 50.5 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks in 23 career games.

Korte-Moore was named a Canada West all-star at defensive end in 2022 as a key piece of the surprising Hardy Cup finalist Thunderbirds. In 34 career games, the Ottawa native has 110 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles.

Burke had a career year for the Golden Hawks in 2022, earning second-team OUA all-star status. In 10 games, the Etobicoke native notched 39 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Grohovac was named a first-team All-Canadian at guard in 2022, building off his second-team selection in 2021. The Victoria native has appeared in 23 games over the past three seasons for the Mustangs.

Murphy was also a first-team All-Canadian selection in 2022, after winning the Peter Gorman Trophy as the U Sports Rookie of the Year in 2019. In 18 career games played, the St. Bruno native has hauled in 86 passes for 1,387 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Peter earned first-team All-Canadian status at linebacker after an outstanding campaign for the Gee-Gees. In 30 career U Sports games, the Ottawa native has amassed 122.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Vandal was selected as a second-team All-Canadian at tackle. The Sorel-Tracy native has been an RSEQ all-star in three consecutive seasons.

Mastroguiseppe transferred to Toronto from York after going unselected in the 2022 CFL Draft, earning second-team OUA all-star honours. The London native averaged 42.6 yards per punt and pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line on 11 different occasions.

Lincoln (CA) defensive end Arnold Mbembe from Quebec City will also participate in the Small College Showcase with a chance to earn inclusion in the main event.

In addition to the CFL Draft prospects, Canada’s only NCAA school, Simon Fraser University, will have American-born defensive back Damon Lynch participate in the Small College Showcase. Manitoba kicker Niko Di Fonte took part in the Pro Gridiron Showcase free-agent workout on Friday, alongside Edmonton Elks kicker Sergio Castillo.

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.