The Elks Files: 2023 Is The Time To Shine

Loucheiz Purifoy. Steven Dunbar Junior. Eugene Lewis. AC Leonard. These are just a number of the new players on the Edmonton Elks roster in 2023. What else do the players named have in common? They're All-Star veterans in the CFL that wanted to come to Edmonton and play for the Elks. Geroy Simon and Chris Jones have been working night and day to add to a core that features veteran All-Stars Aaron Grymes at defensive back and Jake Ceresna on the Defensive Line, Albertan Mark Korte on the Offensive Line, along with 2022 difference makers Dillon Mitchell at wide receiver and Kevin Brown at running back, and 2 Quarterbacks that have had a full year to digest the new playbook in Tre Ford and Taylor Cornelius. With the Elks finishing the 2022 season strong, the new additions saw the diamond in the rough and they want to make that diamond shine in 2023.

How does this compare to 2022? As an Edmonton Elks fan in 2022, I'm not sure if you had certainty over anything. At this time of year 365 days ago, the organization had just brought on Victor Cui to rebuild the organization as a business, which had promise but very little results at that time. Chris Jones had been hired for a couple of months and in the 2022 Free Agency the team signed Emmanuel Arceneaux, Tony Washington and... Adarius Bowman, which left many Elks fans nostalgic and scratching their heads. Bowman retired weeks later as an Elks, Tony Washington would have injury troubles and the Manny Show returned to full form in 2022 and is preparing for a great 2023. The Elks also signed the best Wide Reciever in the league at the time, Kenny Lawler, but he too would have injury troubles half-way through the 2022 season.

There were NFL and College stars that signed with the Elks too. History repeated itself when Cardale Jones was signed after newly signed JT Barrett was moved to the retired list due to medical reasons. Cardale was released in Training Camp. Martavis Bryant was also signed but was also released, although before Training Camp. Between injuries, roster turnover, tough play on the field and the pressure of a missing home win, the 2022 season ended up being a true rebuild year for the Elks. Fan tension has been visible for quite some time now and a second year without a home win wasn't what the organization wanted, but it may have been what they needed in order to rebuild properly. From the beginning of 2022, many people knew that the "look under the hood" was going to result in a multi-year rebuild.

Enter 2023. The cavalry has arrived! All-Stars have charged into Edmonton antler-first ready to bring glory back to the Green and Gold. Already we've seen Eugene Lewis answering fan's questions, the Manny Show challenging the likes of Scott Hutter and Jake Cersena with workouts, and Chris Jones and Geroy Simon holding tryouts to find even more diamonds in the rough. In speaking with a player we won't name at the Edmonton Elks Family Day event, they were visibly excited about this year's team. "People are going to be surprised about Cornelius this year," they claimed with a smile and a nod. A Quarterback shootout between Taylor Cornelius and Tre Ford is around the corner in Training Camp and with Elks fans not having much to cheer about for 3 years including the COVID year, the EE roster finally has a solid core of competitive players that want to play for Edmonton. On top of the improvements on the field, Victor Cui, the media and marketing team, and the entire office has pulled a 180 on many operations with more improvements on the way.

The excitement has been renewed in Edmonton, the Elks are trending up and with that, there's great hope for a home win and beyond in 2023. Does it happen though? That's something we'll have to wait for. The Elks return to regular season action in less than 100 days, so as Morley Scott would say... Antler Up, Edmonton!

This article is dedicated to the memory of Janae Rose Comia-Pelley and Christian Saulsberry.