Last fall the tight end led the Owls with 425 yards receiving, catching 33 passes. He caught three touchdown passes in 11 games. His longest was a 55-yard touchdown against Tulsa.
When the Jays see in him is open for debate.
This fall will determine if or where Willson goes in the next year’s NFL draft. If he does not have a future in pro football he now has the option of reporting to Dunedin next May.
“I hope he has a great year in football,” said Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish, “but if it does not work out, we’ll be there for him. The boy has tremendous make-up, Greg Hamilton tells me he’ll hit until his hands bleed. I’ll bet if he has an off day he’s taking batting practice. He’s already talked to our area scout.”
Under NCAA rules students can sign a pro contract in one sport and remain eligible in another.
Willson hit clean-up for Hamilton’s Canadian National Junior Team in 2008 at the World Juniors in Edmonton.
“He’s got great strength and power, he’ll just need some at-bats to catch up,” said Brett Lawrie, the No. 3 hitter on that team, now the Jays regular third baseman.
Willson had offers from pro teams to sign coming out of high school but chose Rice instead in 2008.
He’s on the John Mackey award watch list, which goes annually to the best tight end in college and he was a first-team Conference USA selection.
“This fall will determine if he choses football or baseball,” said Tinnish. “I know he loves both.”
Willson isn’t any different than youngsters across Canada trying to pick one sport over the other, but he has a back-up plan if the NFL does not work out.
National champs: Tecumseh’s Rob Cooper pitched the Windsor selects to a 5-2 win over the Mississauga North Tigers in Windsor at the national junior final. Dresden’s Justin Cook doubled home a pair of runs.
The top offensive player of the tourney was Quebec’s Dany Deschamps, the best defensive player Quebec’s Michael Page and the best defensive catcher was Chatham’s Larry Balkwill.
The all-star team consisted of right hander Matt Cook, Dresden, lefty Baird Kelly, St. Thomas; infielders Travis Black, London; Manitoba’s Daniel Worb, Nova Scotia’s Jake Pelham, London’s Derrick Strzalkowski and Page; outfielders Michael Cardinale, Windsor’s Cam Goddard and Deschamps.
National champs II: Infielder Nolan Anderson thought manager Mike Lumley was calling him to the mound for a mound conference. Instead, Lumley gave the ball to Anderson with the bases loaded in extras. Anderson threw one pitch and the London Badgers were celebrating, beating Alberta 8-6 in the midget nationals at Regina.
Anderson singled, tripled and had two RBIs. Taylor Carr gave his team six innings of solid pitching on the mound and delivered two hits, including a triple and an RBI.
Best park in the country: It’s either Thunder Bay’s Port Arthur Stadium or London’s Labatt Park. They are the finalists in a Baseball Canada (baseball.ca Champs: The Oshawa Legioniares won the EOBA mosquito title beating the Peterborough Tigers twice 9-2 and 14-13 in the final.
The Legionaires’ Connor Dorey picked up the first win as Kyle Stevenson had three hits and an RBI.
Braden Babcock won the final as Oshawa went in front 10-4 and 14-7 as Derek Steffler was 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs. Quin McLane also homered. Nathaniel Snider recorded the save. Steffler was named championship tournament MVP.
Player of the week
The best of the 121 Canadians in the minors this week was the infielder at double-A Richmond, a San Francisco Giants affiliate, as he had the most hits, batting .481 (13-for-27) with two homers and six RBIs.
Runners-up Jordan Lennerton, Langley, B.C., 10-for-18, .556 two solo homers class-A Lakeland (Tigers); Windsor’s Evan Rutckyj, five scoreless, four strikeouts, rookie-class Gulf Coast Yankees, Frank LaFreniere (St. Bruno, Que.) one run in seven innings, rookie-class Gulf Coast Braves, Wes Darvill, Langley .429 class-A Boise (Cubs), Eric Sim, Abbotsford, B.C. .400 rookie-class Arizona League Giants; Toronto’s Jalen Harris .391, six RBIs, rookie-class Brewers; Brad McElroy, St. Thomas, Ont. .381, five RBIs, class-A Dunedin; Calgary’s Emerson Frostad .368 double-A Corpus Christi.
Newmarket’s Pete Orr recalled by the Philadelphia Phillies from triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Vancouver’s Mike Nickeas recalled by the New York Mets from triple-A Buffalo Bisons
Toronto’s Tim Smith promoted by the Kansas City Royals to double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Cobourg’s Nick Purdy promoted by the Jays to rookie-class Bluefield.
North Vancouver’s Scott Richmond activated from disabled list by the Jays at triple-A Las Vegas.
Richmond B.C.’s Jim Van Ostrand activated from the disabled list by the Houston Astros at double-A Corpus Christi.
Jean Luc Blaquiere, Legardeur, Que. activated off the disabled list by the Mets at double-A Binghamton Mets.
Jonathan Jones, Lorraine, Que. activated by at rookie Class Arizona Giants.
James Paxton, Ladner, B.C., placed on the inactive list by the Seattle Mariners at double-A Jackson.
Nick Weglarz, Stevensville, Ont. placed on the disabled list by the Cleveland Indians at double-A Akron.
Chris Dennis, Amherstburg, Ont. placed on disabled list by the Brewers at class-A Brevard County.
Philippe Valiquette, St. Laurent, Que. released by Cincinnati Reds.