When Howie Zaron vowed he would recruit players from far and wide, he wasn’t kidding.
The Okanagan Sun general manager expects anywhere from 140 to 160 players to be on hand for the B.C. Football Conference team’s 2011 edition of spring camp next weekend, with as many as 80 of those coming from outside the province.
Two early arrivals are quarterback Jeremy Joseph and receiver Everad Jackson, a pair of Winnipeg products who are here to check out the Sun and the city, and to practise with the team this week in advance of camp.
Both spent time in the CIS with the St. Francis Xavier program, while Jackson also played in the BCFC last season with the Surrey Rams.
Joseph played with Team Manitoba back in 2008.
Zaron said the two players will definitely suit up in the BCFC this season. The only question that remains is where.
“They’re going to play for us or for Victoria,” said Zaron. “They went to Victoria and liked it, for the most part.
“What it comes down to for both of them is: first, where are they going to have the best chance to win; second, where are they going to feel more comfortable; and third, whether they’re going to get on the field and play,” said Zaron. “We have three receivers who have graduated and nothing’s guaranteed for the guys coming back, so (Jackson) can put himself in the mix.
“At quarterback, Bobby Davis is our guy, but if we get Joseph in there we could have a helluva competition for the job. Bobby had a good year but like any position we want all our guys to be pushed, we want competition.”
The Sun will also get a firsthand look at a pair of recruits from Ontario who will be in town for camp next weekend—receiver David Risko from Scarborough, and defensive back Jeremiah Hamilton who, like Joseph and Jackson, played at St. FX.
And coming in from Saskatoon—with Sun lineman of the year Drew Digout—will be running back Aaron Martens, the top 4A high school running back in Saskatchewan in 2009.
Still, even with the high number of out-of-province players already signed up, Zaron said camp will also feature a solid contingent of first-time B.C.-bred players.
Among the 20 or so newcomers from inside the province will be local high school prospects Kyle Patchell (receiver, KSS), Peter Chang (lineman, KSS) and Mikael Maloff (running back, Mt. Boucherie), as well as two highly regarded players from Salmon Arm, lineman Travis Colonna and running back Matt Dickensheid.
When camp breaks next weekend, Zaron is confident the coaching staff will have more than their share of talent to evaluate.
“As of today, I can honestly say that we will have depth at every position and competition will be fierce,” Zaron said. “We’ve got players from all across the country and right in B.C. vying for spots, and we’re excited about it.”
The club’s spring camp will begin with registration sessions on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13.
On field workouts will go Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with a scrimmage set for Sunday, May 15 at 2 p.m.