Ontaria Wilson to make first career start as Blue Bombers meet Alouettes in Grey Cup rematch

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Photo edit: 3DownNation.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will have several new faces in the starting lineup when they host the Montreal Alouettes for a rematch of the 110th Grey Cup on Thursday night.

Ontaria Wilson will start at boundary slotback to replace Rasheed Bailey, who wasn’t retained in free agency. The six-foot, 175-pound native of Ashburn, Ga. made 108 catches for 1,521 yards and 12 touchdowns over 51 collegiate games at Florida State University. He also recorded seven carries for 57 yards and one touchdown along the ground.

Eric Lofton will start at right tackle in place of Jermarcus Hardrick, who left for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in free agency. The five-year CFL veteran made 14 starts for the Riders last year and spent most of the 2022 season on Winnipeg’s practice roster, giving him plenty of experience heading into Week 1.

Liam Dobson has won the starting job at left guard, replacing University of Manitoba product Geoff Gray, who remains a free agent. The former first-round pick out of Texas State is entering a contract year and made only one start last season, a 28-14 victory over the Edmonton Elks. He can also play centre.

Miles Fox will start at defensive tackle in place of Ricky Walker Jr., who remains a free agent, after spending most of last season on the practice roster. The six-foot-one, 297-pound defender started one game and recorded three tackles and one sack, earning high praise from head coach Mike O’Shea regarding his high motor.

Celestin Haba will start opposite Willie Jefferson at defensive end in the spot that Jackson Jeffcoat manned for seven seasons before retiring this past off-season. The six-foot-one, 250-pound native of Columbia, S.C. made four starts last season when Jeffcoat was hurt and made 12 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble.


In the secondary, Terrell Bonds and Tyrell Ford will start at boundary cornerback and field-side cornerback, respectively. Bonds is a CFL rookie who spent two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after going unselected in the 2019 NFL Draft, while Ford was Winnipeg’s second-round pick in the 2022 CFL Draft. The native of Niagara Falls, Ont. started one game as a rookie in 2022 before signing with the Green Bay Packers in 2023.

Myron Mitchell, who was a standout at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, will return punts and kickoffs in his CFL debut.

Winnipeg’s roster still boasts plenty of experience and perennial all-stars, including Zach Collaros, Brady Oliveira, Kenny Lawler, Dalton Schoen, Nic Demski, Stanley Bryant, Patrick Neufeld, Willie Jefferson, Deatrick Nichols, and Evan Holm. However, the team has undergone its most significant turnover since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As previously reported, six-time CFL all-star Adam Bighill will start the season on the six-game injured list, though O’Shea is hopeful he could return before six games are up. Other players who will start the year on the six-game injured list are defensive linemen TyJuan Garbutt and Cameron Lawson and defensive backs Noah Hallett, Jake Kelly, and Jamal Parker. Defensive lineman Kyle Samson, Winnipeg’s second-round draft pick out of UBC, is on the one-game injured list.

In total, the Blue Bombers will dress 12 first-time CFL players, including quarterback Terry Wilson, fullback Michael Chris-Ike, receivers Ontaria Wilson, Myron Mitchell, and Kevens Clercius, offensive lineman Gabe Wallace, defensive linemen Jamal Woods and Devin Adams, linebackers Max Charbonneau and Michael Ayers, and defensive backs Terrell Bonds and Marquise Bridges.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (0-0) will host the Montreal Alouettes (0-0) at Princess Auto Stadium on Thursday, June 6 with kickoff slated for 8:30 p.m. EDT. For an overview of Montreal’s depth chart, click here.

Courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers