BY JOHN DECOSTE
Kings County Advertiser/Register
It would appear university football is joining the ranks of the 12-months-a-year sports, at least in terms of generating news.
Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins has announced his first seven recruits for the 2011 season.
“We’ve only lost three starters (Najja Coley, Adrian Saturley and Holden Morales) and 19 players in total from last year’s team, so we won’t be bringing in a huge class,” Cummins says.
“We can always upgrade - and we plan to do so,” especially if the right players happen to be available.
The list of early commits begins with Jesse St. James, a 6’2”, 250-pound defensive lineman from St. Lazare, QC. Described as “a powerful and athletic interior defensive lineman who has the ability to play on the edge,” St. James is coming off a stellar season at Vanier CEGEP, where he helped his team win the AAA championship.
“Jesse is a guy we thought was coming here last year, and we believe he is going to help us up front defensively right away,” Cummins says.
Anyone who saw the Axemen play last season is aware placekicking wasn’t exactly a team strength. Cummins is hoping Ryan Begin, a 5’10”, 195-pounder from Orleans, ON will help. Begin, instrumental in helping the Ottawa Cumberland Panthers reach the 2010 OVFL championship, “brings a powerful and accurate leg to the Axemen, and has the ability to both placekick and punt,” Cummins says. He “will fill a big need” for the Axemen, and will compete for both kicking and punting duties immediately.
“It was blatantly obvious we needed to recruit a placekicker,” Cummins says, “and I believe we’ve found a guy who will make an impact right away.”
The other recruits include fullback and long snapper Troy Harrison, defensive end Brady Paul, offensive lineman Andrew Kinley, kicker/ punter Thomas Blight and defensive back Sean Stoqua.
Harrison, a 5’11”, 220-pounder from Mississauga, ON, is “a strong, powerful hard worker with great leadership skills,” who served as captain of both his high school and OVFL teams. A versatile player and long snapper, Harrison is seen by Cummins as a player who can help both on offense and special teams.
Paul, 6’1”, 210-pounds from Fredericton, is a speedy rushing defensive end from Leo Hayes High School, where he was a provincial all-star in 2010.
“A high-energy player who possesses a great motor, Brady’s ability to rush the passer should make him a fixture on the D-line for years to come.”
Kinley, 6’1”, 260 pounds, comes with the ability to play both guard and centre. A 2010 New Brunswick all-star at Fredericton High, he possesses “a tenacious blocking style,” and will contribute to the offensive line.
Blight, a 6’1”, 175-pound Moncton native, is a transfer from the University of Ottawa, where he has been the past two years. He is a graduate of Bernice MacNaughton High, where he punted, kicked and also was a talented slotback.
Stoqua, an Ottawa native, is a dual sport athlete who also plans to play varsity basketball at Acadia. His speed, athleticism and ability to play all three positions in the defensive secondary should be assets.