CFC # 4 MacRae newest Gryphon

CFC TOP 100 offensive lineman opts for CIS route despite interest from NCAA schools.

When CFC # 4 Arran MacRae was making his final deliberations regarding his gridiron future, he surprised himself in the process.

“Well I never thought I would’ve returned back to the CIS when I was beginning to get national interest my grade 10 year,” exclaimed MacRae.

After experiencing a disappointing three years which saw repairs of both shoulders as well as knee surgery and 24 months of rehabilitation, the 6’5, 300 pound offensive lineman from Kingston, Ontario has opted to begin the next stage of his career in his home province.

Yesterday, MacRae signed with the Guelph Gryphons for the 2014 OUA season.  Previously, MacRae generated a lot of interest from NCAA schools.  The offensive lineman received offers from Nevada and Cornell as well as attended camps at Dartmouth, Harvard, Columbia, and Penn State.  He also visited Ole Miss and Memphis.

“I figured the NCAA was the only route to go if I wanted to achieve success,” expressed MacRae.

However, the Kingston native came at a  crossroads and also experienced a reality check.

“Missing each offseason my final three years of high school and spending 24 of 36 months in rehab taught me early that “guess what Arran, football isn’t going to last forever; you’re not invincible,” recalled MacRae.  “I had always known that academics were important, but I never really fully understood how important not only academics, but also developing the character traits and networks required to become successful after college, were until this year.”

“Having worked full time as a laborer during the summer to help earn money for my family to afford my private school education and seeing all of my money vanish from my bank account in moments after paying a tiny PORTION of my school bills, combined with the advice of my coworkers showed me that if I want to provide a better life for not only myself and my current family, but also my future family, I’m going to need to find a school that is going to prepare with the skills, education and networks I need to become successful after football is said in done. I knew Guelph could do that, but I also knew a lot of other schools could do that for me.”

The strengths of the football program and academics were impressive at Guelph.

“Football wise, they are a program that is making leaps and bounds,” explained MacRae.  “ Every year they bring in better and better recruits, are constantly upgrading their facilities and staff, are doing everything they can to better themselves as a staff and most importantly, they are finding kids who fit their style: not just athletically and academically, but guys that are selfless, team players and family oriented.”

Moreover, the Kingston offensive lineman gravitated towards the family and home atmosphere surrounding the football program.

“Ever since I stepped foot on that campus, I was struck by how much of a home it felt like,” commented MacRae.  “The players and coaches I met all had the same mind set: they were all genuinely friendly and personable.”

“I didn’t get the sense that they were trying to sell me on something. The program is based around building better human beings, not simply athletes or students, and that is something I have always preached for and admire. I have heard and seen nothing but positive things about Guelph from so many people, and the things that the players and staff have done in terms of community service and what they have done after achieving success after graduating to give back is incredible.”

Ultimately, Guelph was the right place for MacRae to embark on the next chapter of his gridiron and academic life. The possibilities of opportunity and success were just what the CFC # 4 ranked player was looking for and he found it with the Gryphons.

“I chose Guelph because it is a perfect fit for me, and I for it,” said MacRae.  “It is a school and program based on moral integrity, character building, family, humility and simplicity first and foremost, combined with a passion and clear and evident drive to succeed on the field and in the classroom.”

“They wanted me for who I am, not just for my football ability. There was no fakeness, no selling, no buttering up.  It was all “This is who we are, this is what we believe and if you believe in it too, this is the place for you.” I was not a disposable piece of meat like I would have been and as I had seen in the NCAA.  I felt at home.”

Arran MacRae Guelph 2

The offensive lineman joins the Gryphons after playing for prep team, the Kent Lions in Connecticut.  Previous to that, MacRae played high school football for the Frontenac Falcons of the Kingston Area Secondary School Athletic Association (KASSAA) where he led the team to the OFSAA National Capital Bowl championship.  He also suited up for the Limestone District Grenadiers. Moreover, he participated in the Global International Bowl where his team defeated the UK All-Stars in Dublin, Ireland.

Among the awards and honours he’s received in his career include KASSAA All-Star, two time Captain, Lineman MVP (2010), two time Queen’s Lineman Camp MVP and FBU Top Gun in Virginia.

As for the Gryphons, the team is thrilled to have MacRae join the fold.

“Arran brings that combination of size and athleticism to the offensive line that we look for to execute the offence we like to run,” commented Gryphons Offensive Line Coach Mike MacDonald.  “He is also a great student who is tremendously dedicated to becoming the best he can be both academically and athletically.”

A Gryphons Hall of Famer is credited with forging the relationship between the football program and MacRae – Mike O’Shea.  Two years ago, MacRae’s chance encounter with the former Gryphons star linebacker (newest Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach) at the team’s Gala Dinner had a profound effect on him as The Kingston offensive lineman reflected back on that meeting and shared the story with CFC:

“I will always have one memory that will be stuck in my head forever that can describe Guelph perfectly: 2 years ago.”

“Before I left for prep school in the States, I attended Guelph’s Gala Dinner. At the time, even though I thought it was a pretty cool place, I was totally set on going to the NCAA. I enjoyed my night there but I couldn’t get over my stubborn thought that I was NCAA bound and that was it.  There was no other option.”

“As the Gala came to an end, I sat alone on a bench outside off to the side in the dark waiting for my dad to pick me up. I watched the players, coaches, and family members say their goodbyes and leave. As I sat, I saw one of the Gala’s honorary speakers, walk outside. He stood around for a bit, making small chat and saying his farewells to others and then noticed me sitting alone.  He came and sat down beside me.”

“He asked me what I thought about the Gala.  I told him that while I was honored to be a part of it.  I was heading to school in the US next year and I planned on going to the NCAA. He told me that it was a worthy goal, told me some positive stories of people who had gone that route and wished me the best of luck.”

“Likewise, I asked him what he thought of Guelph.  What he told me has stuck with me all this time.  He said that, in a very thoughtful and sincere tone, Guelph was a special place. It was not a place for everyone. He told me that it may not be the best football school, or the top academic school in the country, but what it was that made it so unique was that Guelph is an honest and genuinely good place.”

“It’s not the flashiest, the loudest, or the most vibrant, but it was a closely knit family based around humility and compassion. You may not win the most championships, get the most rings or have the glory that you might find in the NCAA, but you will find a family that cares about you and will do what they can to help you succeed not only while you are there, but for the rest of your life as well. You join a special group of alumni similar to extended family once you are done your time at Guelph.”

“With that, this man stood up, wished me the best in my decision, walked to his car and drove off. I sat there amazed that I had what felt like a heart to heart with a total stranger who really had no benefit from me choosing his alma mater or not. I realized that this was exactly the kind of school I was looking for – a place of honesty, sincerity and family values.”

“I did not find out until today at my signing when I brought this up to the coaches, in my own ignorant bliss, that the man who approached me after the Gala on the bench was Mike O’Shea, Grey Cup Champion and now Head Coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. If a school can graduate men and woman of that kind of character, I want to be a part of it.”

Arran MacRae Guelph 4

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