Gryphon tight end Geoff Bezruchko sure took an unusual path to OUA football.Bezruchko played a couple of seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, then took a year off before stepping onto the University of Guelph campus for the first time in the fall of 2014.“When I came to university, I was planning on playing hockey, but I took a year off,” he said after Wednesday’s practice at Alumni Stadium. “My dad always played football growing up and he played pretty competitively. He always wanted me to play, but I couldn’t because of hockey and other sports so I thought I’d try out and it worked out.”A left winger/centre, Bezruchko was selected in the 14th round of the 2010 draft by the Peterborough Petes. In the draft that lasted 15 rounds, he was selected 266th overall. Usually players drafted that late don’t actually play in the OHL, but Bezruchko suited up for 67 games for the Petes that season and the following season he played eight games with the Brampton Battalion and three with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec league before finishing the campaign in tier 2 junior with the Orangeville Flyers.That he played major junior hockey after being selected late in the draft speaks of his determination. Of the 19 other players drafted in the same round as Bezruchko, three played in the league and only Reid Boucher, selected by the Sarnia Sting, played in more games than Bezruchko. Boucher’s now with the New Jersey Devils.His commitment to hockey and the lack of a varsity football team at his high school in Richmond Hill meant Bezruchko had no football experience when he tried out for the Gryphons.“I never played in high school,” he said. “I just played hockey, soccer and volleyball growing up. And a little bit of rugby. I never played football, but I’m happy I chose to play football at university.”“The big thing is he’s just an athlete,” Gryphon offensive coordinator Todd Galloway said. “It took him a year, a year and a half to kind of wrap his head around you use your physicality different. It’s a different kind of game, but the one thing I loved about Geoff and he brought with him from hockey is he’s a physical guy. Now that he knows the game of football, he’s doing great and he’s going to compete to be on the roster and play.”The lack of football knowledge meant Bezruchko has had a lot of learning to do in his time with the Gryphons.“Just learning the plays and learning the game of football is the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome and I think it’s taken me quite a while to get a hold of the concepts and learn the plays and everything like that, which it should because I’ve never played before,” he said. “It’s a brand new sport and people don’t really see how difficult it is to learn the game and study it and perfect it, which is what we want to accomplish. We want to be perfect out on the field.”The size of the Gryphon play book is also something that is new for Bezruchko.“It’s pretty crazy compared to hockey. You may have six or seven kind of set plays and everything else is kind of more flow and you kind of read the play,” he said. “Football is more set so you are in the classroom learning way more. You’re learning tons of different plays and different formations and different play calls and things like that. It’s way more technical compared to hockey. I’d say that’s the biggest change and most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with.”As a tight end, Bezruchko also has a little bit more to learn than the other offensive linemen and the other receivers.“I sit in with the offensive linemen because I have to know what everybody’s doing when we’re running the ball and passing the ball so I’m sitting with them learning all the concepts and plays from that aspect,” he said. “At the same time, I need to know all my routes and be ready to catch the ball, too, when they need me to. It’s difficult, but I do my best and it seems to be working out.”“We knew Geoff always had the physicality, he always had the capability, he’s an athletic guy,” Galloway said. “It just took him a little longer because he hasn’t played football as long to just understand the Xs and Os and understand the philosophy of football.”This week Bezruchko has also spent time working on his kicking game.“I don’t know how, he can do everything. If we asked him, he could probably play quarterback. He’s just an all-around great athlete,” Galloway said. “He kicked a 42-yarder in practice.”“Just recently they’ve asked me to start kicking,” Bezruchko said. “I played soccer growing up so I talked to (special forces coordinator) Bill Brown and said I used to play Team Ontario soccer so I’d try out and kind of help the guys out and see if I can add a little depth. I’m working on it and it seems to be working out OK.”The Gryphons are heading into their season and home opener Sunday as the defending OUA Yates Cup champions.“There’s definitely pressure on us because we’re at the top right now and when you’re at the top, everyone wants to knock you off,” Bezruchko said. “I think our guys are ready for the challenge. We’re pretty confident in the ability we have in the dressing room and we’re a pretty tight-knit group. I think it’s definitely a good challenge and we’re going to have some tough opponents, but I think we’re ready to go and we’re preparing the best we can to deal with that.”For Bezruchko, he’s anxious for the season to start.“I’m really ready and I’m excited to get out there and help my teammates out and do whatever it takes to be a part of the winning group we have here,” he said.Kickoff for Sunday’s home opener against the Toronto Varsity Blues at Alumni Stadium is set for 1 p.m.