3 former Acadia Axemen to compete in Sunday’s Grey Cup

All that's certain Sunday is one team will end a lengthy Grey Cup drought. The Grey Cup is on display before a rooftop press conference held by the CFL, in Toronto, Thursday, Oct, 1, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek

Three former Acadia University football players from the Maritimes will be battling it out for the Grey Cup on Sunday.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers star fullback Mike Miller and defensive tackle Jake Thomas, as well as Hamilton Tiger-Cats wide receiver Brian Jones are all set to take the field at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

All three had been through the Acadia University football system prior to their professional careers.

Acadia Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins, who was integral in the recruitment of the three hometown boys, says watching this year’s Grey Cup will be special.

“I’m really proud of those guys,” said Cummins. “They’re great representations of our program, all three of them.”

“Our name is going to be synonyms with greatness and success in college, and now at the CFL level.”

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Miller, who holds the CFL all-time record for most special team tackles, was raised in Riverview, N.B. Earlier this year, he was voted as the Blue Bombers’ most outstanding Canadian.

“He was always fun to coach,” said Cummins. “You never had to worry about how hard he was going to go or how hard he was going to work.”

“We missed him when he left … once he left we realized how much of an impact he had on our games.”

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Mike Miller, left, and Tyneil Cooper celebrate after recovering their own onside kick during the first half of a CFL football game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver, on Saturday July 14, 2018.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Douglas, N.B., native Jake Thomas is no stranger to Cummins as a coach either. Cummins coached the now 28-year-old out of high school, as well as for Team Canada for the junior and senior teams.

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Thomas played under Cummins during his tenure at Acadia, where he established himself as an All-Canadian. He was then drafted by the Blue Bombers, where he’s played his entire career.

“Just one of the toughest kids we’ve ever had,” Cummins said. “Maybe that’s the thing in New Brunswick, just tough guys. Because Mike was a tough kid, too.”

Defensive lineman Jake Thomas has signed a contract extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Handout / Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Brian Jones from Enfield, N.S., was recruited to Acadia out of Lockview High School. Cummins says even from an early age, his athletic ability was what stood out.

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“Brian was unlike any of the receivers we’ve had, just because of his size and his versatility,” said Cummins. “He could jump extremely well, he could run quite well for his size … Brian was easy to coach in that he was so much more athletic.”

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In Cummins 17 years as the Axemen head coach, this is the first time he’s seen three of his former players all competing for the Grey Cup.

“It’s great to have those guys there. It’s great to know that somebody from Acadia will have a Grey Cup after it’s all over.”

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