The Redblacks so far this offseason have stayed rather quiet. Outside of a handful of re-signings, and the news that Jeremiah Masoli has restructured his contract to facilitate the team bringing in another quarterback. That changed on the 17th when they signed six players in a single day, loading up at wide receiver in particular, and adding some depth to their secondary as well.
Influx of Wide Receiver Talent
The Redblacks have just brought in another four receivers at once, improving depth, but making for a very competitive group as well. Most of these players are not household names as of yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the talent to shine for Ottawa in 2024 if they have a strong camp. Ottawa has shown very little reluctance to get younger players involved over the last two seasons, and I expect that to continue until their losing ways have been corrected. This group of wideouts offers a bit of everything for the team:
Lonnie Moore IV
A 5’10 175 pound burner, Moore has the quickness, and agility to be a dangerous slot receiver in the CFL where he has more room to work when running routes. Moore attended Monmouth where his name is found throughout the record book. During his career he managed to set the school record for kick return yardage while also finishing with the second most receptions, second most all-purpose yards, as well as the third most receiving yards, and 100-yard games in school history.
Moore is one of those players that was simply given the ball as much as possible, in anyway possible to allow him to do his damage. He graduated having taken 23 carries for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns, he caught 213 passes for 2,736 yards and 19 touchdowns, he also managed 79 kick returns for 1,839 yards and 2 more touchdowns. In 48 games Moore amassed 4,880 all-purpose yards, or 101.6 yards per game over his entire career. Prior to signing with the CFL, Moore was being recruited by Indoor/Arena football teams, which could be a solid fallback plan if he doesn’t make the roster. However he has a solid chance to at least secure a practice squad spot this offseason. Here’s a sample of what Moore can do:
Floyd Allen is built very similar to Amari Rogers, a wide receiver in a running back’s body at 5’10 210 pounds. A Houston, Texas native he attended Mississippi for his collegiate career, however that didn’t come until a stop at the JUCO level with El Camino College. He went on to play in 9 games for Mississippi, producing 4 receptions for 44 yards, and 1 kick return for 10 yards.
His time at El Camino was only slightly more productive but was exactly the struggle you would expect off the field. Quite literally living in a van to make his collegiate career work at one point this man will stop at nothing to find success. After college he was signed by his hometown Houston Texans in 2019 but didn’t make the active roster. Most recently he spent time with the Calgary Stampeders, as well as spending the 2021 season in The Spring League under Bart Andrus and company. Allen could be a name to watch this offseason.
Jayshon Jackson hails from Chicago originally but attended Cincinnati, and Ball State for college. Heading into his final season in 2022 he had caught a pass in 25 straight games. Jackson is another player that can do a bit of everything. He has run the ball, thrown passes, caught passes, and returned kicks and punts.
During his time at Cincinnati they didn’t use him as a jack of all trades, and instead expected him to simply play wide receiver. In 35 games with the program, he caught 77 passes for 786 yards and 3 touchdowns. He never logged a carry, or pass attempt, kick return, or punt return for that matter.
When he arrived at Ball State, that quickly changed as he would be asked to a bit of everything over the next two seasons, including being one of the school’s top receivers. Over his next 25 games he caught 142 passes for 1,652 yards and 8 touchdowns over doubling his numbers from Cincinnati. He added 23 carries for 138 yards, and returned 12 punts for 53 yards and 1 kick return for 10 yards. He also attempted 2 passes completing 1 for 26 yards. Ottawa is hoping they get the Ball State version of Jackson.
Kris Thornton is the smallest receiver of the bunch. Standing 5’7 175 pounds he attended James Madison University. Another record setter at his respective school, Thornton stands 2nd in career receiving touchdowns with 23, 3rd in career receptions with 168, and 4th in career receiving yards with 2,540. He was also the first JMU receiver in history with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Thornton spent all five years of his college career with JMU helping him rewrite the record books along the way after redshirting early on.
Having only logged statistics in three seasons, he managed to compile all the stats listed above in just 33 games. He averaged 5 receptions a game for this entire stretch run. He also added value as a runner, and return man with 12 carries for 78 yards and 1 touchdown, and 4 kick returns for 51 yards. Thornton is an unbelievable athlete. At 5’7 he managed a 41 inch vertical, a 6.76 3-cone drill, and a 4.45 40-yard dash all of these numbers are NFL caliber.
Secondary Help Coming in Waves
The Redblacks also signed two defensive backs adding depth, and talent to the backend of their defense. Signing David Haney from MidAmerica Nazarene, and Jaylin Mclain-Sapp from Marshall. Sapp most recently spent some time with the USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers, while Haney played with the Iowa Barnstormers in 2022 and San Diego Strike Force in 2023 both of the Indoor Football League.
David Haney is a small school prospect forced to take the long road to get his CFL opportunity. After two seasons with MidAmerica Nazarene he had collected 54 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 14 pass deflections along the way. Despite a solid career, he didn’t see much interest coming out of college.
This led him to play with the Indoor Football League for two seasons. Over this time with the Barnstormers, and Strike Force Haney again showed he was a quality defensive back who had a knack for interceptions, and added tremendous value as a kick returner as well. With Iowa he managed 44 tackles, 10 tipped passes, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery. He returned 13 kicks for 167 yards as well.
In 2023 joining the San Diego Strike Force, he had a better season this time he had 35 tackles, with 2 for a loss. He broke up 16 passes, intercepted 2, and 1 fumble recovery this time he returned just 1 kick for 12 yards with all world kick returner Carlos Thompson handling the bulk of the return duties, and for good reason. This season helped Haney garner the attention of CFL scouts and finally get his shot outdoors with Ottawa.
Jaylon McClain-Sapp is a 5’10 183 pound defensive back out of Marshall. Sapp is another high potential player who tested off the charts at his pro-day. He garnered the attention of several NFL scouts with a 41 inch vertical, and a 4.44 40-yard dash. Lance Zierlein rated him a 5.5 coming into the NFL Draft which means he was a priority free agent for NFL teams at one point.
His athletic ability alone is worth a training camp spot, especially after a season in which the secondary of the Redblacks was one of the biggest weaknesses. He is very solid in man coverage and manages to often stay in lockstep with the receivers he covers due to his above average top end speed, and impressive first step.
After a solid but not spectacular college career Sapp was left un-drafted. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for a brief time, but didn’t make a final roster. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL but didn’t play much. He would collect 7 tackles, 1 very impressive interception, and a 79 yard fumble return thanks to a Carlo Kemp sack fumble. He was let go by the Maulers surfacing with the BC Lions in April of 2023. He was let go a month later, and was left waiting for a team to call until now. He now gets a chance to make the roster with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2024.
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