CFL has a very American feel

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You can thank Rancho Verde High School (California) head football coach Jeff Steinberg for this story.  The native of Canada, who’s had a very successful career coaching high school football in the states, tweeted this morning that Thursday marks the start of the 60th year of the Canadian Football League.

So with that as the backdrop, I thought I’d check-out where some of the league’s top American players played their high school football.  As a point of reference, all CFL teams must carry a minimum of 21 “Nationals” on their 44-man rosters.  The non-Canadian players are known as “Internationals” and there can’t be more than 20 of them on a CFL roster.

Before the start of every season, Canadian television network TSN ranks the nine-team league’s top 50 players. This year, nine of the top ten players are Americans. And, all nine CFL teams’ offensives are lead by American-born quarterbacks.

And how about this, 46 of the top 50 players in the CFL are imports.

American-born QBs in CFL

The top-ranked player is Calgary Stampeders’ quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who is a Katy High School (Texas) graduate.  Mitchell, who was the 2016 CFL Most Outstanding Player, led Katy to a state championship during his season year in 2007.  That season, Mitchell threw for 2,451 yards with 37 touchdowns and only four picks on a 16-0 team.

Last year in the CFL, Mitchell was second in the league in passing yards with 5,385 yards and he led the league with 32 touchdown passes.

No. 2 on the TSN list is Mike Reilly of the Edmonton Eskimos.  Reilly, who played his senior season at Flathead High School in Montana, led the league in passing last season with 5,544 yards and 28 touchdowns, which was good enough for the second most in the league.  Reilly also was second in the league with nine rushing TDs.

Reilly was No. 1 heading into last season after leading Edmonton the Grey Cup championship in 2015.

Reilly’s high school career started at Kamiakin High School in Washington, before moving to Flathead High for his senior season.  During 2002, he set a school record with 2,280 passing yards after serving as the team’s back-up for the first three games.  That season, Reilly led Flathead to the Class AA semifinals.

The other American-born starting QB’s are — British Columbia’s Jonathon Jennings, who played at Westerville South HS in Ohio; Hamilton’s Zach Collaros, who played at Steubenville HS in Ohio; Ottawa’s Trevor Harris, who played at Pleasant HS in Ohio; Toronto’s Ricky Ray, who played Shasta HS in California; Winnepeg’s Matt Nichols, who played at West Valley HS in California and Montreal’s Darian Durant, who played a Wilson High in Florence in South Carolina; and Saskatchewan’s Kevin Glenn, who played at DePorres High School in Detroit, Michigan.

Jennings is ranked as the No. 5 player in the CFL by TSN, followed by Collaros at No. 11, Harris at No. 24, Ray at No. 27, Nichols at No. 28 and Durant at No. 29.

Below are the other American-born players that are on TSN’s 2017 Top 50:

TSN’s CFL Top 50 (American-born players)

No. 3 Adarius Bowman, WR – Edmonton – Notre Dame HS (Tennessee)

No. 4 Solomon Elimimian, LB – British Columbia – Crenshaw HS (Los Angeles)

No. 6 Emmanuel Arceneaux, WR – British Columbia – Peabody HS (Louisiana)

No. 7 Charleston Hughes, DL – Calgary – Saginaw HS (Michigan)

No. 9 Derek Dennis, OL – Saskatchewan – Pawling Trinity HS (New York)

No. 10 John Chick, DE – Hamilton – Campbell County HS (Wyoming)

No. 13 – Almondo Sewell, DT – Edmonton – Trenton Central HS (New Jersey)

No. 14 Simoni Lawrence, LB – Hamilton – Upper Darby HS (Pennsylvania)

No. 15 Bryan Burnham, WR – British Columbia – Moorestown HS (New Jersey)

No. 16 Maurice Leggett, DB – Winnipeg – McKeesport HS (Pennsylvania)

No. 17 Chris Rainey, RB – British Columbia – Lakeland HS (Florida)

No. 18 Bear Woods, LB – Toronto – Baker County HS (Florida)

No. 19 Jovan Olafioye, OL – Montreal – Ecorse HS (Michigan)

No. 20 DaVaris Daniels, WR – Calgary – Vernon Hills HS (Illinois)

No. 21 Jamar Wall, DB – Calgary – Plainview (Texas)

No. 22 Justin Medlock, K – Winnipeg – Mission San Jose HS (California)

No. 23 Ernest Jackson, WR – Montreal – Gates Chili HS (New York)

No. 25 Greg Ellingson, WR – Ottawa – Robinson HS (Florida)

No. 26 Ted Laurent, DT – Hamilton- McEachern HS (Georgia)

No. 30 Chris Williams, WR – British Columbia – Rio Rancho HS (New Mexico)

No. 31 Odell Willis, DE – Edmonton – Choctaw County HS (Alabama)

No. 32 Naaman Roosevelt, WR – Saskatchewan – St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute (New York)

No. 33 T.J. Heath, DB – Winnipeg – Alexandria HS (Alabama)

No. 34 Shawn Lemon, DL – Toronto – Westlake HS (Maryand)

No. 35 Duron Carter, WR – Saskatchewan – St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Florida)

No. 37 Gabriel Knapton, DE – Montreal – Boulder County HS (Colorado)

No. 38 SirVincent Rogers, OL – Ottawa – Jasper HS (Texas)

No. 39 Tommie Campbell, DB – Calgary – Aliquippa HS (Pennsylvania)

No. 41 Emanuel Davis, DB – Hamilton – Mateo HS (North Carolina)

No. 42 Khalil Bass, LB – Ottawa – Crespi HS (California)

No. 43 Luke Tasker, WR – Hamilton – St. Francis HS (Athol Springs, New York)

No. 44 Stanley Bryant, OL – Winnipeg – Goldsboro HS (North Carolina)

No. 45 Micah Johnson, DL – Calgary – Fort Campbell HS (Kentucky)

No. 46 J.C. Sherritt, LB – Edmonton – Pullman HS (Washington)

No. 47 Alex Singleton, LB – Calgary – Thousand Oaks HS (California)

No. 48 John White, RB – Edmonton – Torrance South HS (California)

No. 50 Travis Bond, OL – Winnipeg – Bertie HS (North Carolina)


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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.