The CFL Scouting Bureau's first top-20 prospects list for the league's 2022 draft is a family affair for Jalen Philpot and Tre Ford.
Philpot, a receiver at Calgary, and Ford, the Waterloo Warriors starting quarterback, were the top Canadian university players on the list issued Wednesday. Philpot, a six-foot-one, 185-pound native of Delta, B.C. was at No. 7, two spots ahead of Ford.
But both were also joined by their twin brothers on the list. Tyrell Ford, a defensive back at Waterloo, was ranked No. 12 while Tyson Philpot, also a receiver at Calgary, was at No. 15. The Philpots' father is former B.C. Lions standout running back Cory Philpot.
"It's a great honour," Jalen Philpot said of being on the list with his brother. "Tyson and I have grown up watching the CFL, watching our dad play in the CFL.
"It's just a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to both of us showing our skills."
Ford heaped lavish praise upon his brother, adding he felt Tyrell Ford should've been ranked higher.
"I think Tyrell is a great DB, I think he's the best DB in the class, for sure," Ford said. "I think whatever team gets him will be surprised.
"I feel he gets overlooked a little bit because a lot of teams don't really throw his way, which I think is a good gameplan, personally. Tyrell is an unreal athlete. I think he deserves to be higher in the rankings, too. He's a baller."
The CFL Scouting Bureau consists of league scouts, player-personnel directors and GMs. It releases its top-20 draft prospects three times annually (fall, winter and spring).
Dontae Bell, a senior offensive lineman at Fresno State, was the top-ranked player. The six-foot-seven, 326-pound native of Victoria started the four games he appeared in last season at left tackle after starting all 10 contests in 2019 and was recently named to the 2022 Senior Bowl watch list.
Bell was among eight NCAA players who cracked the top-10. That's not surprising given most American universities played football last year while those in Canada didn't due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other top-10 selections included: Syracuse linebacker Tyrell Richards (No. 2 but currently in transfer portal); Eastern Michigan offensive lineman Sidy Sow (No. 3); Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa (No. 4); Illinois defensive back Sydney Brown (No. 5); Coastal Carolina defensive back Enock Makonzo (No. 6); Ole Miss defensive lineman Tavius Robinson (No. 8); and Penn State defensive back Jonathan Sutherland.
The other Canadians to make the list include: Western offensive lineman Zack Fry (No. 13); Alberta offensive lineman Peter Kozushka (No. 14); Saskatchewan running back Adam Machart (No. 18); Alberta defensive back Jayden Dalke (No. 19); and Saskatchewan offensive lineman Noah Zerr (No. 20).
Philpot, a converted running back, enters the '21 season with 70 career receptions at Calgary for 1,090 yards (16.4-yard average) with seven TDs. His brother, who is also six foot one and weighs five pounds more, has 36 catches for 828 yards (22.5-yard average) with five touchdowns.
"Tyson has definitely been playing receiver longer than me . . . but I don't think you could go wrong with either one of us," Philpot said. "I definitely learn from him and he learns from me.
"I think Tyson has definitely got me on speed a little bit but I think we're definitely both built for the CFL game."
The six-foot-one, 185-pound Ford, of Niagara Falls, Ont., finished the 2019 season completing 204-of-294 passes (69.4 per cent) for 2,609 yards with 18 TDs and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 830 yards on 97 carries (8.6-yard average) with eight touchdowns.
Waterloo posted a 4-4 record that season before beating Ottawa 44-21 for its first playoff victory in 20 years. But the Warriors dropped a 30-24 semifinal decision the top-ranked Western Mustangs.
The Ford brothers both opted out of the '21 CFL draft, partly to remain in school and help the Warriors chase a championship.
"Obviously we really wanted to get to playing at the next level but we ultimately felt like we left some stuff (on) the field at Waterloo. We feel like we can win a championship, which was a big deal and we wanted to try and get one of those.
"We also feel like going back for one (more) year will also help our draft stock because we didn't have a (2020) season and we really didn't have all the film we wanted. And the CFL combine was virtual and we weren't sure how everything was going to work out and (we) plan on putting up big numbers there."
Calgary defeated Montreal 27-19 to capture the '19 Vanier Cup. And although the global pandemic has delayed the Dinos' title defence, Jalen Philpot is happy to assume the mantle of defending champion.
"I think it's definitely our Vanier to defend, for sure," he said. "We are the reigning champions so we'll take it."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2021.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press