A pair of former South Delta Sun Devil standouts and lifelong teammates are continuing their Alberta football journey to potential pro careers.
Grant McDonald was selected in the second round (14th overall) by the Edmonton Football Club in Tuesday’s CFL Draft. Minutes later, Charlie Moore went in the third round (26th overall) to the Calgary Stampeders.
Both were key starting linebackers when the University of Calgary Dinos captured the 2019 Vanier Cup national championship. They also had leading roles in the Sun Devils winning their first provincial title at the “AAA” level in 2014.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Moore. “This will be the first time Grant and I won’t be teammates. We played football all those years together with the (South Delta) Rams and Sun Devils, then in Calgary. Even in lacrosse with the same Islanders teams.”
The pair are part of an SDSS talent pipeline to the Dinos program that began with Jack McDonald and Blake Gau after the 2014 title run. It hasn’t stopped since with Ben McDonald, Evan Paterson, Ethan Troniak and Evan Davies being the latest recruits taking their careers over the Rockies.
“Coach (Ray) Moon has a phenomenal program out there,” said Calgary Dinos defensive coordinator Matt Berry. “They don’t have a ton of kids or the biggest kids but they adapt to the skills and talent they have. Whether that’s going with a no huddle offence or running the ball with the biggest kid they have. They do whatever it takes to win games.”
Berry watched Moore become a “tackle machine” in his final game as a Sun Devil, a heartbreaking provincial semi-final loss to Terry Fox in 2015. It was a heroic effort given he had missed much of his Grade 12 season with a shoulder injury.
It somewhat limited his university options but the Dinos saw plenty and Moore heard good things about the program from his former teammates.
“He definitely had the ability to move, be physical and play the game,” continued Berry. “Since then Charlie has taken the time to work on his game, grow his body and mature as a young man. He has been dedicated to the Dinos program and very dedicated to the whole journey of trying to get drafted. He took his training seriously and he met with me before every team interview to go over everything they might ask.
“(The Stampeders) think he fits with what they do. He can be a good special teams player and develop as a linebacker. Charlie has the flat out ability to just run and that definitely sparked teams’ interest.”
Grant McDonald arrived at Calgary as a transfer from Maine University where he was playing tight end. He thrived as a running back in high school, leading the Sun Devils in rushing for three straight seasons. However, the Dinos thought his athleticism and size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) were better suited for the other side of the ball.
“I think deep down he realized he was a defensive player,” said Berry. “He is a strong, aggressive and a disruptive player. Grant has also shown a lot of development as a player. He played some defensive end in certain packages for us by taking the time to work extra with our defensive line coaches. He took it seriously that he wanted to build some multiplicity to his game.
“He plays with a level of intensity and seriousness that the guys saw. He set the tone at times by making a big hit or making a big play. It got the guys rolling in the right direction.”
The COVID pandemic wiped out the 2020 U Sport season. Moore returned home in early January where he did classes online as he closes in on his geography degree. He also worked out with the Coquitlam-based Air Raid Academy. At least, he won’t need much time to familiarize with the Stampeders operation that shares McMahon Stadium with the Dinos.
“It’s going to be a quick walk down the hall for me,” he laughed. “I may need shake off little bit of rust but everyone is going to be in the same boat. The thing for me is getting in the best shape of my life and doing what I can to make the team.”