GVSU’s Revenberg selected third overall in CFL Draft

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Brandon Revenberg (57) makes the tackle on an Eagle offensive drive.  Grand Valley defeats Ashland with a final score of 45-28 Nov. 22 at Ashland University.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Brandon Revenberg (57) makes the tackle on an Eagle offensive drive. Grand Valley defeats Ashland with a final score of 45-28 Nov. 22 at Ashland University.

Beau Troutman

Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Brandon Revenberg says his household had one favorite sport.

He was a hockey man.

“We watched a lot more hockey back when I was a kid than football,” Revenberg said. “For now, it’s definitely football, but back in the day it would’ve been hockey.”

Revenberg, a four-year starter on Grand Valley State football’s offensive line, will return home to his native country as he was drafted third overall by the Hamilton (Ontario) Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League draft on May 10. Hamilton is only a couple of hours by car from Windsor.

Revenberg is the second GVSU player to be drafted into the CFL, after former lineman Josh Bourke was taken in the third round of the 2004 draft. Revenberg was a two time All-GLIAC selection and four-time GLIAC All-Academic selection.

Sports fandom aside, Revenberg is excited to move on from GVSU and begin his professional career.

“I was just with my family watching (the draft) on TV,” Revenberg said. “I saw that it was the (British Columbia Lions) pick, they were the third pick. All of the sudden my phone started going off, and it was from Hamilton, Ontario.”

The Tiger-Cats moved up from the fifth overall pick to the third to draft Revenberg, in addition to swapping a third-round pick (23rd overall) for the Lions’ fourth-round pick (30th overall).

The trade had been agreed upon verbally hours in advance. The Tiger-Cats went into the draft with Revenberg at the top of their draft board.

“Our assistant GM, Drew Allemang, was very high on Brandon early in the process,” said Tiger-Cats general manager Eric Tillman. “After we brought him in for an individual workout in early May, there was a strong consensus that Brandon should move up even higher on our board.

“In fact, (Tiger-Cats coach Kent Austin) felt he was the top lineman in the draft.”

The CFL draft is exclusively for Canadian players. American players have to get into the league through a different process, usually free agency. Because Revenberg was born in Windsor, he was eligible for the draft despite playing collegiately in Michigan.

Before he was a top five pick in the CFL, Revenberg says he received little interest before his senior year.

“I wasn’t too sure what to expect,” Revenberg said. “It wasn’t until later on in my senior season that the CFL really became a reality for me. Before it was just something in the back of my mind, like, ‘Hey wouldn’t that be great to do.’ It started to become an option, and from that point forward that’s what I focused on.”

In addition to receiving interest from the CFL, Revenberg got a taste of the NFL as well, though the CFL was his main focus. He was invited to the New York Giants’ rookie mini-camp, which was held on May 6-7. Revenberg had the opportunity to work with Giants’ positional coaches and play alongside other rookies vying for a roster spot.

Tillman says many positives led to the Tiger-Cats selecting Revenberg, namely his positional versatility and passion for the game. Over his four-year GVSU career, Revenberg played in 48 games at tackle, guard and center on the offensive line.

Though it’s early, the Tiger-Cats have been impressed with what they’ve seen out of their third overall selection.

“He’s certainly validated our evaluation process,” Tillman said. “I think he’s shown tremendous promise, and the things that we saw in the evaluation process: good feet, good core strength, he’s displayed the toughness in the early stages of camp that’s required to play in the trenches at this level.

“We’ve certainly seen evidence that he loves the game, and the passion component is important.”

The Tiger-Cats are already in the midst of training camp, as the CFL begins much earlier that the NFL. CFL teams, similar to the NFL, play 20 games, but have two preseason games and 18 regular season games as opposed to the NFL’s four preseason games and 16 regular season bouts.

Revenberg will look to help a team that made Grey Cup appearances in 2013 and 2014. The team nearly made a third Grey Cup appearance this past season, but lost a heartbreaker to the Ottawa Redblacks in the East Final, 35-28.

The Tiger-Cats open the preseason at Toronto on June 11, and then travel to Toronto again two weeks later for the regular season opener on June 23.

With the season fast approaching, Revenberg says he’s not intimidated by the speed of the next level, and wants to do everything he can to help his new team win games.

“The coaches trust me, they believe in me, so there’s not a lot of fear going into it,” Revenberg said. “You gotta fight for your spot, I’m going to have to work for it. I’m pretty confident in my abilities, I’m not going in cocky or anything like that, I’m just happy to have the opportunity.”

It’s this mentality that the Tiger-Cats drafted Revenberg, and an attitude that could pay dividends in the form of a long career in the CFL.

“The day that we had him here, we just felt good about him,” Tillman said. “We felt that he would fit with our culture, with the kind of team that we’ve built, the kind of people that we’ve brought into this organization. We thought he would be a good fit on and off the field…

“If we’re fortunate and things work out well, he might spend the totality of his career with this organization.”