Redblacks release 21 as part of final roster cuts, including Canadian punter Jake Julien

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Ottawa Redblacks have released 21 players as part of their final roster cuts, including coveted specialist prospects Jake Julien and Keegan Markgraf.

Julien was selected by the Redblacks in the fourth round of the 2021 CFL Draft but returned to school for his final season in the hopes of increasing his NFL prospects. The six-foot-two, 217-pound punter went undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft but signed as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots. He was released following New England’s first preseason contest where he dressed but did not register a statistic.

The Barrie, Ontario native spent five seasons at Eastern Michigan University where he punted 221 times in 54 games, averaging 44 yards per attempt. He pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line 71 times in his career with 51 punts of his punts traveling over 50 yards.

Markgraf was also selected in the fourth round of the 2021 CFL Draft but chose to return for one final season with the Utes. He played just six games as a long snapper before missing the remainder with injury, but was a semi-finalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, given annually to the NCAA player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance.

The Hamilton, Ontario native walked on at the University of Utah after transferring from Central Michigan University, spending four seasons as the primary snapper for the Utes. Markgraf earned a scholarship in 2019 and the next year was named a semi-finalist for the Patrick Mannelly Award as the top senior long snapper in the NCAA.

The Redblacks also announced the release of five other Canadian prospects in receiver Willy-Pierre Dimbongi, linebacker Subomi Oyesoro, fullback Connor Ross, defensive lineman Quintin Seguin, and defensive back Daniel Valente, as well as Global defensive back Edris-Jean Alphonse. The team also parted ways with American quarterback Jake Dunniway, receivers Emmanuel Butler and De’Michael Harris; offensive linemen Osaro Eromosele and Justice Powers; defensive linemen Jake Hlava, Nelson Mbanasor, Divine Obichere, C.J. Onyechi, and Bryce Rodgers; and defensive backs Ty’reke James, Tareke Lewis, and Hugh Nelson.

Ottawa also announced the suspension of four 2023 CFL Draft pick — defensive lineman Alexander Fedchun, receiver Daniel Perry, running back Amlicar Polk, and linebacker Josh White — presumably with the intention that they all return to school.

In a corresponding move, the Redblacks placed 13 players on their practice roster. These included Canadian defensive lineman Aidan John, receiver Daniel Oladejo, and offensive lineman Eric Starczala; as well as Global defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer, and offensive linemen Lucas Lavin and Roman Warheit. Americans remaining with the team include running back De’Montre Tuggle, receivers C.J. Lewis and Savon Scarver, offensive lineman Drake Centers, defensive lineman Tre Hornbuckle, and defensive backs Deandre Lamont and Joshua Valentine-Turner.

The Redblacks are scheduled to open their 2023 season on Saturday, June 10 on the road against the Montreal Alouettes.