CIS-Con: Hamilton Tiger-Cats shuffle Courtney Stephen (Laurier) to safety

(Over the next few days, this blog will do its best to give a rundown on how CIS alumni figure into the grand scheme for each CFL team. Friendly reminder: the ratio in the CFL requires each team to have seven 'nationals' among the 24 defensive and offensive starters. It should be 10, five on each side of the ball, but one battle at a time ... one battle at a time.)

To dissemble in Costanza-esque fashion, the Tiger-Cats are right in the meaty part of the curve with how they use their Canadian talent — not showing off, not falling behind.

The five Canadians on the offence are the centre, both guards, an inside receiver and a wideout, and all five played in CIS. The two Canadians on the D both played Division 1. Defensive tackle Ted Laurent played for Mississippi (where Ticats HC Kent Austin once coached) and safety Courtney Stephen played at Northern Illinois after transferring from Laurier.

To be fair, Stephen is the safety spot normally occupied by erstwhile all-star Craig Butler (Western), who has a knee injury that will likely need extensive rest in order to heal. Otherwise Hamilton would have a surplus of nationals who are established starters.

Receivers / backs — Slotback Andy Fantuz (Western) is now an elder statesman, entering his 11th season. Spencer Watt (Simon Fraser, before it became the team who must not be named) is making a comeback after losing all of last season with an Achilles injury. Before that misfortune, Watt had a skein of solid 350- to 400-yard receiving seasons with Toronto.

Good news for Calgary Dinos supporters: alumni Anthony Woodson and Mercer Timmis are reunited on the running back depth chart. Bad news for them: both are nursing injuries.

Offensive line — Guard Ryan Bomben (Guelph) and centre Mike Filer (Mount Allison) are part of a an all-national interior-line trio.

Defensive front seven — With Ted Laurent starting in the interior, Linden Gaydosh (Calgary) is waiting in the wings as the backup.

Among the Canadian linebackers, 28-year-old Frédéric Plesius (Baylor / Laval) is first man up ahead of Byron Archambault (Montréal), Terrell Davis (UBC), Beau Landry (Western) and Ron Omara (St. FX).

Defensive secondary — As noted, Stephen (Laurier / No. Illinois) is in a new position in a vastly altered Tiger-Cats secondary. Mike Daly (McMaster), of 2011 Marauders fame, and Jay Langa (Saint Mary's) are depth players at safety.

Seventh-rounder Mitch Barnett from Vanier Cup champion UBC is following the common progression from university linebacker to CFL special-teamer who is listed at D-back. Barnett, of course, was Canada West's second-leading tackler and recorded 4½ sacks in the eight reg-season games.

Specialists Aaron Crawford (Saint Mary's) and Mathieu Girard (Montréal) are each on the roster. That means the Ticats have two long snappers to work with triple-duty kicker Brett Maher.

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