The last two weeks have produced two new starters and players to the CFL that have stood out and are for real.
Nate Bussey - He is a real Will LB. Austing gave Knowleton the chance but is not really a Will LB and has lost a step at SAM. When they released him there was a player to step in and take his place. Often times the word rookie is used loosely in the CFL. Bussey is in his first full season of the CFL but a pro rookie he is not. A 7th round draft pick of the Saints in 2011, out of Big Ten Illinios where he excelled on defense as well as special teams, spent the 2011 season on the saints practice roster.
2012 competed NFL training camp starting with the saints and ending with the Panthers was released on final cuts. A modern import who knows about the CFL did not wait around for an NFL PR spot but insted got some game play in the UFL and signed with Hamilton PR the last week of the season. & tackles in his first start and stood out among the defense.
Rico Murray - rookie free agent in 2009 out of a top mid major in Kent State spent the 2009 and 2010 season bouncing between the Bengals PR and active roster. Ended the 2010 season on the IR and that continued into his third season with the bengals in 2011 where he was released at final cuts. After 3 seasons of NFL bouncing signed with Edmonton in 2012 spent time on the IR after training camp before being released from a crowded and talented Edmonton D Backfield.
hamilton signed him after TC on July 6th and unleased him on the CFL last week where he stood out at Sam LB with 10 tackles.
hamilton singed Brandon Issac placing Murray on the bench to start as Austin will try to found out the best place for him in the D Backfield because he is a player. Played CB then back to Sam after two injuries to the starters at those positions. Again as you can see he is new to the CFL but he is no rookie.
Courtney Stephen - Drafted by Hamilton in 2012 and returned to another top Mid Major Illinois. Starting his career as a CIS all star transfered to the DI level where he would gain expereince at safety and special teams at a higher level of play. Finally got his start at safety and he did not disapoint looked very much in place as a CFL safety.
Emanuel Davis A little bit more of a project but had an excellent career at East Carolina where he was a lock down corner and holds the record for pass breakups. Undrafted free agent for the Browns another final cut player and hooked on with the UFL. Now a second year pro player went through the NFL mini camp rookie mini camp cycle and landed right in Hamiton's lap signing June 1. He also stood out for Hamilton last week showing some speed the kind needed to play CB in the CFL doing what he does best breaking up a pass to a deep and speedy Taj Smith in making up ground and catching him. Can't teach speed and who better to coach him up but Orlando.
Was released out of training camp with his position being part of the ratio where Hinds/Bucknor Canadian Combo were givien one last chance to prove themselves and they did not. So now with both being on the bench the last few games and entering for injury and getting beat each game shifting geers to an upside young second year pro like Davis has all of the makings of becoming a shut down corner. Taj Smith has been very effective this year but Drew Willy decided to pick on the other CB position should tell you something.
Eric Norwood a 4th eound pick out of South Carolina where he was a 3 time all SEC player so Austin knows him well as being Ole Miss OC during those. He played two seasons with the Panthers on there roster as part of their D rotation. His third season was released by the Pnathers in final Cuts in 2012 and since he played for two season's no PR eligibility it was off to the UFL. Did not get picked up by any NFL teams so he moved on Quickly by siging and playing in the Arena Football league. Allowing to give him as much game action as possible Austing did not sign him until after training camp on July second and has been part of the line up and has quietly played very well among the other distrations.
Before the season hitting the Free Agent Market signing a top HB in McCoulough and top Canadian DT Bulcke who for one week appeared he would be part of a double Canadian Duo at DT after drafting Gaydosh but Gaydosh got a late contract with the NFL after the draft.
The defense needed to be blown up for sure and while it may look like there is no rhyme or reason or plan in place look a little closer and you will see that is not the case