As a 13-year-old, Tyler Annesley was 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. Minor football opponents needed a backhoe to move him.
He just turned 18 and he’s 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. High school coach Mike Scheller figures Annesley isn’t done growing.
The University of Calgary Dinos are big on Annesley’s vitals and have signed him to a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) deal. Annesley will red-shirt with the Dinos this season, meaning he can practise, but not play with the four-time defending Canada West champions.
Annesley spent three years with the Fulton Maroons, where he played both offensive and defensive line and defensive end. Scheller is ecstatic about getting another Maroon into CIS football.
“Tyler is a great kid and very coachable,” said Scheller. “I would say his greatest attribute will be his size. He will be a huge man once he finishes growing, with a long wing span. Those are the key things you want in an offensive tackle – size and arm length. Tyler has a lot of upside.”
Born in Vancouver, Annesley moved to Vernon from Terrace for Grade 6 at Beairsto.
“I played community football with coaches Ron Kirschner, Lee Elliott and Doug Cook, and I liked the game right away,” said Annesley. “It was something I was good at; being big, they couldn’t move me.
“In Grade 10, I decided it was something that I’d like to continue on with. It was a dream to play university football, but I never thought I would.”
Scheller said Annesley, one of the Maroon captains, could always be counted on for a stellar showing no matter where he lined up.
“Tyler was a very dependable player, and always gave his all,” said Scheller, who will be an assistant coach at a Las Vegas school this fall. “He picked it up in games we needed him the most, and his play rose with the level of competition.
“Our coaching staff is proud of the way he has progressed in his three years as a Maroon, and his parents, Dave and Darcie, were huge benefits to our team as well. We wish him all the best with the Dinos.”
U of C head coach Blake Nill says the Dinos, who have 11 offensive linemen in the CFL, recruit that position on athleticism while looking for tall and lanky traits.
“The biggest asset that Tyler has is he’s got some size,” said Nill, whose cousin, Jim, is a former NHL forward now working for the Red Wings. “He’s very young and he’s got a long ways to go physically; that’s going to be his challenge.”
Nill said the Dinos’ system of grooming O-linemen works as they make sure the players are ready when their number is called.
“Tyler has a good attitude. He understands his timeline. Most offensive linemen in our program redshirt for two years because they need time to be ready for this level.”
Annesley works with a couple of trainers at Fitness West, improving his overall strength and endurance. He praises Scheller for guiding him through Football 101.
“He’s been one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s taught me a lot. Without him and the other coaches, Gator (Shayne Gaythorpe), Roger Scales, Josh Cooper and Bryan Bateman, I wouldn’t be going to play university.
“The O-line doesn’t really get the stats. We come out hard every game and do our thing.”
Annesley talked to a few schools, visiting St. Francis Bishop’s in Quebec during Spring Break.
“I really wanted to put education first and see how much the coaches wanted me. Calgary is closer to home too.”
He sent a highlight video to the Dinos and attended their spring camp in late May with 100 players.
“I showed up at spring camp and I felt small,” chuckled Annesley. “My play was iffy at first, but I never gave up. You only get one chance so I was going my hardest.”
Once Calgary recruiters pinpointed the players they liked best, those players met with the Dinos and Okanagan Sun head coach Gavin Lake. The Dinos decided it was best that Annesley red-shirted rather than play a year of Junior A first.
Annesley, who also played basketball and rugby at Fulton, plans to get his masters in energy management. He earned a $1,250 entrance scholarship and has applied for more funds through the U of C alumni club (the Fifth Quarter).
A New Orleans Saints’ fan, Annesley gets his size from his father, a forester.