For four members of the Guelph Gryphons, the next path in their football futures was revealed Thursday evening when they were selected in the annual CFL draft.
Offensive lineman Andrew Pickett (Ottawa RedBlacks, 22nd overall) and defensive back Royce Metchie (Calgary Stampeders, 25th overall) were picked in the third round, kicker Gabe Ferraro (Calgary, 59th overall) was selected in the seventh round and defensive back Nick Parisotto (Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 66th overall) was taken in the eighth round.
“Four guys taken, we’re proud of that,” interim head coach Todd Galloway said. “We knew there were four or five guys who could get drafted and we knew two or three of them were ones that lately CFL teams had had a talk with me about. We’re excited. We obviously want all of our guys to get a chance, but it’s exciting to see those four guys get that opportunity.”
Wednesday, Galloway sat down for one-on-ones with all the Gryphons who had a chance to be drafted and he plans to sit down with them again.
“I told them no matter what happens (in the draft), I love them all,” he said. “I told them whether they get drafted or don’t get drafted, I want to sit down with them one-on-one after the draft.”
In his next meeting with the players who were eligible for the draft, whether they were taken or not, Galloway plans to talk about their options so all can be ready for the 2018 football season.
For the drafted foursome, none of them had any real good idea which team would select them.
“I didn’t have any idea ahead of time,” the 6-foot-3, 313-pound Pickett said. “I was just kind of riding with the flow and seeing where it took me.”
Like all players eligible for the draft, Pickett watched the two-hour televised portion and then when that ended, he switched over to the internet broadcast and watched with his family.
“It was exciting,” he said. “The two hours really flew by.”
While Pickett’s name was mentioned a few times on the televised broadcast, he was one of the fist to be selected after the broadcast was over.
“Honestly, I didn’t really focus on the pick too much,” he said. “I was just excited to go wherever I go and give it 100 per cent effort and I’m excited to play at the next level.”
Now Pickett and all the other draft picks will have about a month to get ready for the opening of CFL training camps.
“Now it’s just training and getting ready to go into training camp,” he said. “I’m just excited for some good competition and some hard work. I’m excited for some physicality and I’m ready to go.”
Pickett had plenty of praise for the Gryphons and the part they played in his development.
“The Gryphons did an awesome job,” he said. “(Strength and conditioning coach) Andrew Graham worked me and all the other CFL draft prospects really hard and really worked on our functional strength, our combine testing and everything like that.
“(Offensive line) coach Mike MacDonald did an amazing job of working with me in helping me develop as a player and also as a person. I owe a lot to coach Mike MacDonald and everything he’s done for me. The Gryphons were there to do anything for me and help me progress as much as they could.”
Pickett was the ninth offensive lineman selected in the draft.
Metchie, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound defensive back, played in 28 games in four seasons with the Gryphons and had 82 solo tackles, 52 assisted tackles, a sack, six tackles for losses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two interceptions.
“I’m really excited,” Metchie said over the phone as family and friends partied in the background.
The fourth defensive back selected in the draft, Metchie hadn’t spent much time before the daft trying to figure out in which round he’d see his name come up on the drafted list.
“To be honest, I didn’t really think much about where I was going to go,” he said.
But he certainly knew how much of a thrill it is to be picked.
“Out of 10, we’re at a 10 right now in excitement,” he said.
Ferraro, the 5-foot-10, 178-pound kicker who set a U Sports record when he hit 33 field goals, saw his name come up on the screen about thee and a half hours after the draft started.
“It’s been a long night, but it’s well worth it,” he said. “It’s just such an honour. Just to be in this position and just to have this opportunity is such an honour. I can’t even put it into words.”
Ferraro’s performance last season – he also had 23 converts for a total of 122 points – brought his four-year total with the Gryphons to 69 field goals and 86 converts. Since the end of the 2017 campaign, Ferraro has put in a lot of work in the hopes of ealizing his deam of playing in the CFL.
“The work just gets harder from here on,” he said. “This is just the beginning. Being drafted means nothing if I do nothing with it. I’ve just got to keep working now and working even harder to be ready once camp starts.”
Ferraro becomes the second Gryphon kicker with the Stampeders who selected Rob Maver in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2010 draft.
“Him and I have a pretty good relationship,” Ferraro said. “He’s actually texting me right now. I’m excited to go out there and work with him and learn from him.”
Ferraro was the lone kicker taken in this year’s draft and now that he’s been drafted, he feels that maybe he was destined to get picked by the Stampeders.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Before I came to Guelph, I played for the Burlington Stampeders so I have that special connection with the Stampeders and it’s pretty cool to go there now.”
About 15 minutes after Ferraro was selected as the eight-round draft neared its end, an anxious Parisotto was picked. Three players were taken after the Guelph native.
“It’s incredible,” he said minutes after he was selected. “Honestly, I can’t explain it right now.”
It was a long night for Parisotto as he waited to see if he was going to get drafted and as the draft reached the halfway point of the final round, he started to think it wasn’t going to happen.
“Coming down to the end of it, I was like maybe I won’t get my name called,” he said. “It was just insane. It was looking like maybe it wouldn’t happen, but thank God.”
Being selected by the Ticats brought back memories of the first CFL game Parisotto ever attended.
“One of my first football memories is actually going to a Ticats game with my dad,” he said. “I still have the foam hammer and the Oskee Wee Wee shirt that I still wea occasionally. We both still break out our shirts from that game and wear them on occasion.”
Like the other draftees, Parisotto plans on adding to his workout routine in order to be ready for his first CFL training camp.
“I’m just just taking it to an absolute whole new level,” he said. “I’ve been working out with a new trainer and doing everything I can to make myself ready fo the season. Now I’m just getting ready to crack the team and bring my best football forward. That’s all I can really do.”
The picks mean that at least one Gryphon has been selected in each of the last six years and this year’s total is the second-highest single-draft total, bettered only by the five taken in 2016.
“This is just another example of how strong this Gryphon program is,” Galloway said. “The statistics coming into this draft, I think we were fourth in the country in the last three years in players drafted to go pro. Another four tonight, I don’t see that ranking us any lower. I think we’ve done a really good job developing players over the years, a good job of recruiting players over the years and I believe a good job of retaining players as well throughout their careers and developing them as young men off the field and academically so they can get to this point so they can get a chance to go pro.”
In the last four CFL drafts, 14 Gryphons have been selected. Calgary Dinos had 28 players selected, Laval Rouge et Or 20, Western Mustangs 17 and Montreal Carabins 14.
Their total of players selected in the CFL draft in recent years is one that helps in recruiting.
“We don’t hide it,” Galloway said. “We advertise we’ve done fairly well and it’s a selling point. Obviously, we’d love our guys to come back and stay for five years and help us, but ultimately the goal is to help these guys achieve their goals as well, which is a chance to play professional football.”