Aprile to the Blue Bombers

Gaels receiver drafted 16th overall

Giovanni Aprile eludes a Laurier defender during Queen’s 58-35 win on Sept. 17, 2011.
Giovanni Aprile eludes a Laurier defender during Queen’s 58-35 win on Sept. 17, 2011.
Journal file photo

Just six years after playing his first football game, Gaels wide receiver Giovanni Aprile could be on his way to the pros.

Earlier this month, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Aprile with the 16th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2012 CFL Draft.

Originally from Toronto, with only two years of high school football at Senator O’Connor College School behind him, Aprile suited up for one game in his first two seasons at Queen’s.

He secured a starting role in 2010, and enjoyed a stellar 2011 campaign that saw him emerge as a premier offensive threat in the CIS.

“I didn’t really care where I went [in the draft],” said Aprile, who was ranked 12th in the CFL’s pre-draft rankings. “If I was drafted in the sixth round, that would have been sick.”

Aprile was the lone Gael chosen in the draft. Running back Ryan Granberg, offensive lineman Derek Morris and defensive lineman Frank Pankewich all attended the CFL evaluation camp in early March, but were not among the 45 players selected.

The Blue Bombers, who are coming off a 34-23 loss in the 2011 Grey Cup, expressed interest in shifting Aprile from receiver to safety, a position he hasn’t played since high school. At 6’3 and 213 pounds, Aprile is significantly bigger than any current Winnipeg defensive back.

“[The Bombers] are going to try me out at a few different places because they’re looking for a more versatile player,” Aprile said.

In addition to starting at receiver, Aprile dominated on special teams in 2011 as the Gaels’ primary kick returner, leading the CIS with 36.5 yards per return and two touchdowns.

Although Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan believes Aprile’s versatility will be a terrific asset at the professional level, his ability to adapt will depend on where the Bombers choose to deploy him on the field.

“I believe this is kind of where potential meets opportunity,” Sheahan said. “Are they going to use him at [receiver]? If they do, then he’s got good grounding in that position, but if they like him as an athlete and want to use him somewhere else, then there will be a pretty steep learning curve.”

Aprile will attend training camp with the Bombers, which runs from the end of May until the start of the regular season on June 29. Players drafted to the CFL do not forego their CIS eligibility, so Aprile could return to Queen’s in 2012 in lieu of signing a professional contract.

“I suppose Queen’s fans would not be disappointed to see him back for a little bit of a refresher. But he may impress and stay, you never know,” Sheahan said.

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