The 2020 Canadian Football League (CFL) Draft was held on April 30 with some of the top football prospects in Canada available to be selected. For four Thunderbirds, this marks the first step in their professional journey.
“This is only the beginning for me, but it’s definitely a big step. So I’m happy to be able to accomplish it,” said Trivel Pinto, who joins a powerhouse Calgary Stampeders team and has made the Grey Cup finals in three of the last four years, with one title during that span.
For Pinto, his selection in the second round at 12th overall made him the highest UBC draft pick since offensive linesman Dakoda Shepley was taken 5th overall in 2018 by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“Looking forward to being back on the field with the team again. Just being able to practice again with some like minded individual people working towards the same goals as me, and eventually winning a championship,” said Pinto when asked what he's looking forward to his first CFL season.
The former All-Canadian receiver joins a powerhouse Calgary Stampeder team, having made the Grey Cup finals in three of the last four years with one title during that span. Pinto’s last campaign with the T-Birds was record breaking, setting the single-season record for most receptions of 67 and leading the conference in all-purpose yards.
The next T-Bird taken was defensive back Stavros Katsantonis, 36th overall in the 4th round by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
He finished his UBC career with three All-Canadian first team appearances, a Vanier Cup in 2015 alongside Pinto, and he was named the 2017 Canada West Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. Katsantonis finished his last season with the Thunderbirds tied for the conference lead in interceptions.
Fellow defensive back Jean Ventose soon joined Katsantonis on the Tiger-Cats, being selected in the 6th round at 56th overall.
Starting his football career with the University of Calgary Dinos, Ventose transferred to UBC to wrap up the last two seasons of his Canada West career, earning a spot as a stalwart on the UBC defensive line.
The final T-Bird selected in the CFL draft was Tom Schnitzler, a defensive lineman with the 72nd overall pick by the Tiger-Cats in the 8th round.
Transferring into UBC from his junior football team in Saskatoon, Schnitzler made an immediate impact and looks to translate his defensive prowess into the professional ranks.
With the four T-Birds selected in this year’s draft, this brings the total of T-Birds picked in the CFL draft to 19 under head coach Blake Nill’s 5-year tenure with the UBC program.
The T-Birds look to rebound next season after a disappointing year, which saw them finishing at the bottom of the Canada West standings. They will miss the contributions of these key players, but UBC has many promising players waiting in the wings, ready to take on the rest of Canada West.
The 2020 CFL season is to be announced due to COVID-19.