Johnny Augustine is hoping to become even more involved on the field in his fifth and final year with the Gryphons.
With 2,052 yards and 19 touchdowns on 361 carries in his first four OUA regular seasons, Augustine is looking for a lot more catches than he’s had so far and will line up in a new position this year.
“The new position is basically H receiver -- kind of a slotback,” he said following an extra self-imposed catching session following the normal on-field session at training camp. “(It’s) being able to run routes and just doing different things.”
The position is one he was put in by the Edmonton Eskimos at their training camp in June. He scored a touchdown from the position in Monday’s intersquad game.
“It went really well,” he said of the CFL team’s camp. “I was thrown into a new position as well, but toward the end of camp I was getting used to it, I was getting familiar with it. I was asking all the questions that needed to be answered. I went on the field, I did very well – especially on specials from a personal standpoint. It’s just nice to know I can compete at that level.”
The new position means that Augustine should see the ball thrown his way a bit more. He has caught 28 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns with the Gryphs, but those numbers should expand this season.
“From the running back standpoint I’d have a few catches here and there, but this year I’m like a target,” he said. “I understand that it will be thrown to me. I’m enjoying the process and taking it in every day.
“Playing a different position and doing a lot more from a versatile standpoint is great. I’d expect that being here five years not just doing one thing. That would be the only change, but at the same time you just get familiar with everything, the level of competition.”
By the time your fifth training camp comes along, pre-camp jitters are a long forgotten memory.
“It feels like the same thing,” Augustine said. “I’ve been doing it for five years now so it’s not like my first year. It’s just coming from a veteran standpoint.”
Augustine is also to see more time on special teams – not returning punts or kicks, but blocking and making tackles.
“I haven’t played much specials in my career at the University of Guelph, but going into the CFL I understand to make it that’s what you have to do. That’s what I have my eyes set on and specials is the No. 1 thing and priority. It’s not new for me because I played it out in Edmonton so I know what it’s like.”
After being in the group of final cuts by the Eskimos, Augustine decided it was time to get away from his training routine for a bit. He’d been going at it pretty hard, first getting ready for the CFL combine, then the disappointing CFL draft when he wasn’t selected and then the Eskimos camp after signing as a free agent.
“I just took a couple of weeks off. My body needed it, I was going through so much from combine to camp. I enjoyed the summer a bit, but toward the end of the month I went back to my old ways of training and doing everything because I had the season coming up.”
He also has a new Gryphon playbook to learn with Jean Francois Joncas now the team’s offensive coordinator.
“Everyone’s different. Some people can literally learn that kind of stuff in a couple of days and others, it takes longer. At the end of the day it’s a matter of fact in how invested you are because if you commit to it, it’s going to come easy. The playbook to me personally is not difficult. Coach JF is a great offensive coordinator and I’m excited to play in his offence. The reason why it’s not difficult is because I’m studying. He expects that. Before I go to bed every night I’m studying. That’s what you have to do. I learned that at the pro camp.”
With their OUA season opener less than two weeks away, Augustine knows what he has to do to be ready.
“Basically, just keep my body ready and my mind ready -- just stay focused and do what I’ve done before. This is nothing new for me. I know what it’s like and I’m just going to keep doing the same thing.”
And he’ll be ready for anything that’s thrown his way.
“Whatever they ask me to do I’ll do. I’ve always gone by that. I’ve said that since Day 1 and this is the last (year) so I’m not going to change anything.”
The Gryphs will see preseason action against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and Mount Allison Mounties at Antigonish, N.S., Saturday and host the Ottawa Gee-Gees in their OUA season opener Aug. 27.