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The 2014 Canadian Football League season kicks off tonight in Winnipeg when the Blue Bombers host Toronto at 8:30 p.m. ET. Over the years, the CFL has seen many former South Carolina standouts wear the jerseys of league teams.
In alphabetical order, here are the eight former Gamecock players currently listed on CFL rosters heading into Week 1 of the 20-week regular season schedule:
Fred Bennett (Calgary): Drafted by the Houston Texans in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Bennett spent five seasons in the NFL with four teams until signing with Calgary in 2012. He collected 38 tackles and three interceptions for the Stampeders in 2013. Bennett made one of the top plays of the 2013 season by punching the ball out moments before a kick returner reached the end zone: http://cfl.ca/video/index/id/86603
Garrett Chisolm (B.C.): Chisolm went from walk-on to second-team All-SEC offensive lineman during his two-year career at USC (2009-10). Subsequently, he spent parts of the next three years with three different NFL teams (Miami, Carolina, San Francisco). He signed with the B.C. Lions, but is currently on the Suspended List.
Jarriel King (Toronto): King begins his second season with the Argonauts and is listed on the depth chart for tonight's game as the starting right guard for Toronto. Undrafted in 2011, King played two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks until he was waived in March 2012. The Argonauts signed him on May 29, 2013.
Eric Norwood (Hamilton): USC's all-time leader in sacks (29) and tackles for loss (54.5) began his CFL journey in 2013 when he was signed by Hamilton on July 2. He finished his debut season north of the border with 45 tackles and four sacks, and started the 101st Grey Cup championship game against Saskatchewan. Norwood was drafted in the fourth round by Carolina in 2010 and served as a reserve linebacker for the Panthers in 2010-11. He played for Virginia in the UFL in 2012 and then spent a brief time in the AFL with San Jose and Pittsburgh.
Marty Markett (Winnipeg): One of USC's fastest players when he played for the Gamecocks, Markett enters his second season with the Blue Bombers looking to regain his starting position after missing the last four games of 2013 due to injury. He has one career interception. He collected 26 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery a year ago.
Justin Sorensen (Edmonton): A native of Parksville, British Columbia, the 6-foot-8, 311-pound Sorensen was selected by the B.C. Lions in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2008 CFL Canadian Draft prior to his senior season with the Gamecocks. He played two seasons with the Lions (2009-10) and three with Winnipeg (2011-13) until signing a free agent contract with Edmonton on Feb. 11. However, he suffered an injury in training camp and begins the campaign on the six-game injury list.
Carlos Thomas (Saskatchewan): Thomas left USC following the 2008 season and signed with San Francisco. He signed with Saskatchewan in October of 2009, then with Edmonton in October 2010. He was traded to Hamilton in 2011 and spent two seasons with the Tiger-Cats. He signed a free agent contract with the Rough Riders in February 2013 and earned a ring as Saskatchewan captured the Grey Cup title. Thomas started seven games at defensive back and one game at linebacker for the Rough Riders, finishing with 23 tackles, six pass knockdowns, two interceptions, one quarterback sack, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. He had one tackle in the Grey Cup.
Jonathan Williams (Ottawa): After a brief stretch with the B.C. Lions in 2009, Williams waited three seasons for another opportunity in the CFL and finally got it in 2013 when he signed with Toronto. He had 28 tackles and two sacks for the Argos last season but was claimed by expansion Ottawa for 2014. He is listed on the Redblacks' depth chart as a backup defensive tackle.
Note: Former USC defensive back Brandon Isaac was released by Saskatchewan on June 21 after signing a free agent contract with the Rough Riders on May 20. He has 127 tackles, 12 sacks, two interceptions and six fumble recoveries in five CFL seasons with Hamilton, Toronto and Calgary.
CFL Opening Weekend Schedule:
Thur., June 26 - Toronto at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
Sat. June 28 - Montreal at Calgary, 3 p.m.
Sat. June 28 - Edmonton at B.C., 6 p.m.
Sun. June 29 - Hamilton at Saskatchewan, 7 p.m.
(All Times Eastern)