In early May, 69 athletes across the nation got the chance to move up from varsity to professional football careers with the 2018 Canadian Football League (CFL) draft. Of those selected, four are former UBC Thunderbirds. Here’s a quick breakdown of where they each ended up.
Shepley, a 2017 Canada West All Star who was highly ranked in various pre-draft rankings, did not have to wait long before being selected as the fifth overall pick in the draft. He was picked by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, after signing a free agent contract with the NFL’s New York Jets just days earlier.
Whether it’s north or south of the border, whichever team Shepley gets the opportunity to play for will receive an outstanding offensive lineman whose combination of athleticism and power played a crucial role during the Thunderbirds 2015 campaign. That season, the T-Birds put up nearly 6,000 total yards on the way to UBC’s Vanier Cup win.
A native of Victoria, BC, Davis is an electrifying player who poses a threat any time he touches the ball. He produced over 3,000 yards from scrimmage in his first two seasons with UBC, playing receiving, running and return game roles with the team.
While his final two years were plagued by injuries, numerous CFL teams still took notice, as Davis was selected in the fourth round with the 31st pick. He joins his brother and former Thunderbird teammate Terrell Davis on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This season, Davis will also gets an opportunity to be a target for Heisman Trophy winner, former NFL player and incoming Tiger-Cat Johnny Manziel.
A University of Calgary transfer, Maxwell was a difference maker on defence in his second year with the Thunderbirds, producing a team high 41.5 tackles. He was named a second team All-Canadian and a Canada West All-Star for his efforts.
A defensive back with tremendous speed, Maxwell can also provide an impact on the return game. He was selected by the Calgary Stampeders with the 42nd pick in the fifth round.
Another homegrown player, Watson joined the Thunderbirds in 2014, playing an offensive role as he registered just four catches for 65 yards in his first season. A receiver with impressive speed and the ability to catch any ball thrown his way, Watson exploded in the following two seasons. He led the team with over 1,600 receiving yards and caught eight touchdowns over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, becoming a key offensive weapon and a primary target for quarterback Michael O’Connor.
Watson will get the opportunity to continue playing at home as he was selected by the BC Lions in the seventh round with the 54th pick.