Partying with family was the way the Guelph Gryphons picked in the Canadian Football League draft celebrated their selections.
Three Gryphons were taken in this year’s draft -- offensive lineman Jaylan Guthrie by the Calgary Stampeders in the fourth round, 37th overall, fellow offensive lineman Eric Straczala by the Toronto Argonauts in the seventh round, 62nd overall, and linebacker and long snapper Job Reinhart by Calgary two picks after the Argos took Starczala.
“I was just at my parents house,” Starczala said. “There was just me, my brother and sister, my parents and my aunt. I just wanted close family and stuff. I didn’t want to make a big thing out of it.”
But it became a big deal when he was drafted.
“Everyone was really excited,” he said. “I got attacked by hugs and stuff.”
It was much the same for Reinhart.
“I was with my parents, but all my friends and brothers were watching it live so I got a bunch of calls from my friends and family,” he said.
Those phone calls continued the day after the draft.
“My friends are pretty supportive of me.”
For the drafted Gryphons, getting picked was the next step in their desire to become professional football players.
“It’s the next step and now I’ve got to make the team,” Starzala said. “I’ve just got to keep training, stay healthy and get ready for camp.”
The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Starczala hadn’t had much contact with the Argos prior to the draft.
“Toronto actually hadn’t talked to me until the day before the draft. My agent was telling me that he was thinking I’d get drafted the whole time.”
Reinhart, a 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker and long snapper, also plans to keep up on his routine.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I was doing which was hitting the gym and hitting the field and working on my long snapping,” he said. “I’ve just got to mentally prepare for training camp. “I’m just going to keep doing my same routine because I’ve been going hard for the whole off-season so I feel ready to go to training camp.”
During the off-season, Reinhart works out with his brother Jake who’s a long snapper with the Argos.
“He’s an awesome resource,” Job said. “It’s really good because he has a lot of good knowledge and I can ask him many different questions and he helps me out a lot.”
Job could also be snapping the ball to a pair of former Gryphons as Rob Maver is their punter and they drafted Gabe Ferraro last year. While with the Gryphons, Job snapped the ball to Ferraro for four years during which time Ferraro became the all-time leading scorer and field-goal kicker in Gryphon history.
“We’ve build quite a chemistry every time we go out so it’ll be great to have a familiar face to snap to,” Job said.
As Job and Maver have met during clinics at either Alumni Stadium or the Gryphon Fieldhouse, that could make things a little easier when he first arrives in Calgary for the Stampeders’ training camp. Defensive back Royce Metchie is also in Calgary and Guthrie should be there, too.
“It’s awesome to have some Guelph guys out there that I can join again,” he said. “It’s not complete strangers. At least I have some guys I know right off the bat which will definitely be good.”
The same is true for Starczala with the Argos whose roster includes fellow Gryphons Ryan Bomben, Alex Charette and Jake Reinhart. Cameron Walker and Jeff Finley were there last season, too.
“It’ll definitely help. At least I’ll have someone I know and someone I can talk to,” Starczala said. “One of my former teammates from the Cambridge Lions (Hassan Barry) plays with them, too.”
Starczala also played on the Gryphon offensive line with Andrew Pickett and Kyle Fraser-Audit who were both drafted by the Ottawa Redblacks.
“(Gryphon offensive line) coach Mike (MacDonald) does a great job coaching us,” Starczala said. “He develops the O line pretty well and he played a big part in it. That helped a lot. Learning from vets in my early years definitely helped a lot – taking away as much as I could.”
Both Reinhart and Starczala could be back with the Gryphons if things don’t go their way at their first CFL training camps.
“If things don’t work out, I’ll come back and be ready to work hard, play football and get another year of wrestling in,” said Reinhart who is also a member of the Gryphon varsity wrestling team. “I’m prepared either way.”
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Starczala said. “I’m not 100 per cent sure, but I think I’d come back. I’d miss football too much.”
Guthrie was a starter on the offensive line at tackle for three seasons starting in 2015. However, the 6-foot-5, 296-pounder was sidelined by injuries last season.
Quoted for an article on the U of G athletic department’s website, MacDonald said “Jaylan is a tremendous athlete with great physical potential. He is a very strong guy who also has the speed required to succeed at the pro level.”