Four Varsity Blues football players were selected in last week’s Canadian Football League (CFL) Draft, capping off one of the best seasons of University of Toronto gridiron in recent memory.
Aaron Milton was the first Blue selected, picked by the Edmonton Eskimos using the 15th pick of the draft to nab the rights to the devoted running back. Milton had a terrific 2013 season with the Blues, leading the team and ranking fifth in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) with 603 rushing yards.
Milton’s two most notable performances, and those which cemented his place among the stars of University of Toronto sport, happened on home turf. Beneath the Varsity Stadium floodlights, Milton ran for a career-high 171 yards in a late September clash against the Carleton Ravens, playing a crucial role in U of T’s first home win in over a year. He stepped up in front of the Blues faithful again on October 19, running for 140 yards in a 50-18 win over the Waterloo Warriors. With the win, the Blues finished with a .500 record for the first time since 1993.
Alex Pierzchalski was the next Blue selected, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders exercising the 18th pick of the draft to claim the receiver. Pierzchalski also had a career year, notching 51 receptions for 537 yards, and scoring a team-high of nine touchdowns. He too stepped up for U of T in the club’s late-season home victories, scoring three touchdowns against the Ravens and two more against the Warriors to finish his Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) career just shy of Cory Kennedy’s all-time reception record for U of T players.
Also selected was veteran offensive lineman Aaron Wheaton and linebacker Christopher Johnson, chosen 28th and 44th by the Ottawa Redblacks and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, respectively. Wheaton has been aptly described as the “glue” of the Blue’s offensive line, and played a big role in the program’s recent return to OUA relevance. Johnson was also key to this success, recording 3.5 sacks and twice notching seven tackles in a game in what was a breakout 2013 season for the young man.
With a CIS-high four players selected in the CFL Draft, and U of T’s all-time receiving yards leader Paul de Pass having recently signed with the Ottawa Redblacks, there is much for Varsity Blues fans to be proud of. Perhaps more importantly, such interest among professional clubs is indicative of a larger achievement; after much hardship, U of T football is back.