Achaempong the first of three Golden Hawks selected in 2020 CFL Draft

Photo by Darien Funk

The Golden Hawks men’s football program has reason to celebrate again as they have sent three more of their players to the professional league. Defensive Lineman, Sam Achaempong was selected in the second round and was the first of three Laurier players chosen in the 2020 Canadian Football League (CFL) Draft.

Fellow defensive teammates, linebacker, Brad Cowan and linebacker, Tanner Cadwallader also heard their name called as they were selected in the sixth and seventh round, respectively.

“I’m so happy and proud of them. What really gets us excited is we have seen the work over the past four to five years that has gotten them to this point,” Coach Michael Faulds said of his three players turning pro.

“Of course, you need the tools but it’s the everyday work in the classroom, weight room and on the field and all three of them are outstanding young men,” Coach Faulds added about the work ethic and determination of his three defensive players.

In his seven years with the Golden Hawks, Coach Faulds has built a successful men’s football program as the three selections this year gives Laurier 13 CFL Draft picks over the past four years, all of which have been recruited and coached under Faulds.

With Sam Achaempong having been selected 20th overall with the final pick in the second round, the Golden Hawks have now had three consecutive years of a player being selected in the second round, all of which played on the defensive side. Defensive back, Godfrey Onyeka who was drafted 10thoverall to Edmonton in 2018 and defensive lineman, Robbie Smith who was selected ninth overall by Toronto last year.

Achaempong, who is from Brampton, Ontario, will get to stay close to home and join his former teammates Robbie Smith and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. in the professional leagues, as the Toronto Argonauts selected Achaempong with their fourth pick in the draft.

“Sam surprised no one. He had the measurables when we first recruited him, size and strength, but he really fine tuned his game under defensive coordinator and d-line coach, Ron VanMoerkerke,” Coach Faulds said.

Achaempong was a skilled athlete ever since he was recruited out of high school. At 6’5 and 275 pounds, he was able to use his strength on the defensive line to overpower opposing teams, however Coach Faulds credits the work ethic and development that Sam underwent throughout his four years with the school under himself and his staff.

Achaempong is coming off a career year this past season, playing in all eight games and recording 19 tackles. Achaempong was a dominant force getting to the backfield as he led the Golden Hawks with 5.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. He was named an OUA men’s football First team All-star after the season.

Linebacker Brad Cowan was the next Golden Hawk off the board as he was selected in the sixth round, 47thoverall by the Ottawa Redblacks.

The 6’3, 235-pound linebacker had a great season this past year, playing in all eight of the team’s games and recording 28 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. After missing the 2018 season due to injury, Cowan was second on the team in tackles and sacks this past season.

“Tanner and Brad —so proud of them because they battled adversity. Brad missed a whole season with severely injured wrists and came back this year to have a great season. I’m so proud he gets to go back to his home-town in Ottawa as well,” Coach Faulds said of Cowan.

Laurier’s final selection in the 2020 CFL Draft may have the most unique story of any draft picks. Linebacker Tanner Cadwallader of Georgetown, Ontario was selected in the seventh round, 64thoverall to the defending Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Initially recruited by the Western Mustangs as a quarterback, he switched to wide receiver and played one year with Western, before switching to Laurier, so that he was closer to home with his mother who was battling cancer.

At Laurier, Cadwallader turned into a defensive player, beginning to take snaps at defensive back and linebacker. He played in 13 games over three years for Laurier before he had an injury setback and decided to explore other options.

Coach Faulds mentioned the mountain of football experience and passion towards the game that Cadwallader has developed over his years playing football. Last year, Cadwallader split time in the Canadian Junior Football League and internationally with the Bologna Warriors of the Italian Football League.

“Tanner in high school played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and played defense. He is a phenomenal athlete who has trained so hard and experienced a lot of football, going to the Grey Cup Champs of last year is pretty cool,” Coach Faulds said of the versatile Cadwallader.

In what was an OUA heavy CFL Draft, the three members from Laurier was tied with the fourth most selections by Ontario schools. Western, Guelph and McMaster topped the field having each had four selections a piece.

Coach Faulds has done a great job developing a successful and professional football program at Laurier, this year was no different. Achaempong will join four of his former alumni with the Argonauts, Cowan returns home to play professionally with the Redblacks and Cadwallader continues his football journey to the highest heights of Canadian professional football.

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