York U signs five program-changing recruits

York University Lions football player poster

The York University Lions football team unveiled its most impressive group of recruits in program history on Wednesday night when head coach Warren Craney announced the signing of four Alberta players who have committed to join the program in 2015.

Receivers Colton Hunchak and Jacob Janke, quarterback Brett Hunchak and linebacker Jakub Jakoubek all signed their letters of intent on Wednesday night in Calgary and will join the Lions next season. They will be joined at York by linebacker Jakob Butler, who announced his commitment in December. All five have extraordinary football resumés, including representing Canada at the recent Under-19 (U19) International Bowl in Dallas in February.

“This is an unprecedented day for our program,” said Craney, who has been the head coach of the Lions since 2010. “We have never before brought in a recruiting class with the prestige and accolades these players possess. Each of them would make our program better instantly on their own, and together they are the most talented group of recruits to enter the CIS [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] this year.

“Their commitment to our program proves that we are building a winner here at York, and we are looking forward to watching them excel on the gridiron and carry this team to new heights over the next several years.”

The Hunchak brothers, from Calgary, were two of the most coveted recruits available this off-season, and they will provide an immediate boost to the offence. The brothers represented Canada at the U19 World Championship in Kuwait last summer, where they won the silver medal, and at the U19 International Bowl in Dallas in each of the last two seasons.

In addition to their international experience, the brothers both played high-school football for the prestigious Notre Dame Pride, the most dominant program in Alberta. Brett led the team to an undefeated season and the Alberta Tier I championship in 2012, and Colton turned the same trick as the starting quarterback this past season.

Colton is also among the most highly ranked recruits in the country, sitting at No. 9 in the Canada Football Chat (CFC) final rankings for 2015.

Janke, who hails from Edmonton, most recently played in the United States and excelled at Glacier High School in Kalispell, Mont. He earned all-conference honours as a kick returner while helping the Wolfpack win the Class AA state championship. He is also known nationally and was ranked among the top 30 by CFC on their final list.

While the Hunchaks and Janke shore up the Lions’ offence, the defence will get a boost from Jakoubek and Butler. Jakoubek, also a Calgary native, spent the past two seasons playing junior football with the Calgary Colts and has developed a reputation as one of the most skilled linebackers in the league. Last season, he earned the Larry Wruck Award as the Canadian Junior Football League’s (CJFL’s) most outstanding defensive player of the year, and he was also named an all-Canadian.

Butler, from Sherwood Park, Alta., is the highest ranked high-school linebacker in the country and one of the top overall recruits for the class of 2015. He had a successful high-school career at Salisbury Composite High School, earning the senior team’s most valuable player award in each of the past two seasons while helping the Sabres win the top Carr Conference title in 2013 and reach the final again this year. He was selected for the U19 World Championship team last summer but was unable to compete because of an injury.

These five players will be on campus in August for the opening of training camp, and they will make their CIS debuts on Sunday, Aug. 30, when the Lions host the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in the season opener for both teams. Kickoff for the game is set for 1pm at York Stadium.