Gilgronis.com lead writer Austin Willis predicts who the Gilgronis might take with the #4 and #16 picks in the first-ever MLR Collegiate Draft.
The 2020 MLR Collegiate Draft will be aired on ForTheFans (FTF) on Saturday, June 13th at 6pm CT.
In predicting the first-ever pick for the AG’s, it’s crucial to look deeper into past moves the team has made. Throughout the pre-season and five matches of the shortened 2020 MLR season, the AG’s certainly felt the team’s biggest need was in the second row. This draft could help add key depth to the AG’s engine room.
Lock It Up
The AG’s came into pre-season camp with a notable lack of depth at lock. The club re-signed 2019 starters Rikus Zwart and Maikeli Naromaitonga and added Samoan loose forward Potu Leavasa, who could provide some cover at lock. The team called up JP Novak from the local D1 club, Austin Huns, in the hopes that he could provide decent minutes off the bench.
Rikus Zwart was one of the standout players from the 2019 0-16 team and the surefire starter alongside Naromaitonga and Leavasa in all three preseason matches. Zwart was unfortunately ruled out of the home opener after suffering a match-week practice injury.
The staff elected to start JP Novak (51 mins) to the delight of the Huns fans, while also making a match-day move to bring in Chicago Griffins lock, Eric Jacobson (29 mins).
Rikus Zwart’s week two return to the starting roster brought optimism to the club ahead of the team’s trip to Las Vegas, but that optimism was quickly soured as Zwart suffered a season-ending injury in the second half against RUNY.
Ahead of a week three matchup with the Utah Warriors the club signed and rostered Luca Tani from San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club. The MLR debutant earned 68 minutes off the bench in the final three matches, while Leavasa went on to play all 80 minutes at lock helping the team eke out a 1-1-1 finish to the season. Leavasa earned MLR First XV of the week honors in his first start at lock.
This draft is full of locks the AG’s could use to add some second-row depth.
Bronson Teles – Lock/6, University of Arizona
Teles is a Texas native, a two-time Collegiate All-American, and the most highly touted lock in the draft class.
Teles’ South African father was the first to introduce him to rugby, but Teles would go on to star in both football and rugby at Foster High School (just outside of Houston.) Several tours with the junior All-Americans later Teles was on the radar of several major collegiate rugby programs, but the two-sport athlete eventually landed with the University of Arizona and coach Sean Duffy. Bronson Teles started in almost 40 matches as a wildcat and many more with the All-Americans and the University of Queensland.
At 6’2” 245lbs Teles lacks the height of the traditional MLR lock, but could certainly fill in at blindside flanker if the staff opts to keep Leavasa at lock. Teles makes up for his lack of height with an incredible work rate and tackle ability.
Cameron Dodson – Lock, Grand Canyon University
No lack of height here, Dodson is 6’6” 245lbs.
At Grand Canyon University Dodson primarily played No. 8 where he could get some additional carries off the back of the scrum. Dodson proved himself a capable jumper against some solid forward packs throughout college, including the University of Arizona, Cal Poly, and St. Mary’s.
Dodson proved to be comfortable in the air at the restart as a starter for GCU in both sevens and fifteens. Dodson’s highlight reel displays his solid carrying ability and a solid flick pass offload.
Dodson is originally from England and is currently on an F1 Visa which could affect his draft status and thus his draft stock.
Matthew Gordon – Lock/No.8, University of Mary Washington
Another prospect with question marks surrounding his visa and eligibility for draft selection. Gordon is native to Aberdeen, Scotland and on an F1 Visa in the United States. Gordon played in the Glasgow Warriors Academy from the age of 16 until he came to the United States with the University of Mary Washington.
In 2019 Gordon earned Collegiate All-American selection after a D1AA final win with Mary Washington. Gordon is 6’4” 245lbs and is just as capable a ball carrier as he is in the tackle. Gordon was the primary lineout option for UMW, and like Dodson played primarily at No. 8 to get more touches and tackles.
Daemon Torres – Lock, Life University
Torres is a two-time Collegiate All-American and a try-scoring machine out of Round Rock, Texas. Torres could be a solid local option for Austin. At 6’4” 230lbs, Torres isn’t built like your typical long lanky jumper lock. He’s tough on defense and no stranger to the big hit. Torres is a smart ball carrier with an impressive offload package. but knows when to use the offload and when to hit the deck. He’s strong in contact and just as comfortable taking the ball to the line as he is sending an out-the-back pass to a trailing playmaker. In the 2019 D1A playoffs no player scored more tries than Daemon Torres (7).
The first-ever draft is full of second-row options. Could this Saturday be an opportunity to lock up the AG’s engine room of the future?