TORONTO — The 40-yard dash is the marquee event of Sunday’s festivities at the CFL Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok. And while many of the top CFL prospects participating Sunday have their sights set on some blazing fast numbers, no one will likely even come close to touching Steven Turner’s E-Camp record of 4.31 set at last year’s combine.
That’s due in part because for the first time in the league’s history the times will be officially reported using electronic timing instead of hand held timing, which tends to add a couple ticks on the clock.
Western’s Brendan Dunn continued to put up some of the best numbers among offensive linemen this weekend, pacing the big men with a 5.24 second time Sunday.
Dunn’s secret? His ultra light cleats.
“I wear these cleats all the time — they’re the lightest cleats I’ve ever had in my life,” Dunn said of his black and white boots. “I love them. I use them here, I use them in games. They’re lightning fast.”
Dunn, flying under the radar leading into E-Camp, has certainly put himself on the map this weekend, finishing first among offensive linemen in both the vertical and broad jumps and second in the entire ECamp field in the bench press with 24 repetitions.
“It feels great to have the best time, it makes me feel a lot more confident in what I have to do later today,” the six-foot-seven, 280-pounder said. “I’m here to show up and be the best football player possible. That’s the goal.”
Sherbrooke’s Yannick Sage had the second best time among offensive linemen at 5.31seconds.
The slightly less big boys were the second to hit the 40 circuit and the competition was nothing short of intense. Mathieu Boulay and Marc-Antoine Fortin finished in a dead heat at 4.84 seconds each.
Boulay, a six-foot-two, 250-pounder from Bishop’s University had targeted the forty-yard dash as an event where he could really show his skill to CFL talent evaluators.
“I’ve been training hard for this. I knew speed was going to be an efficient part of my game so I came out here and did my thing today,” Boulay said. “I would’ve liked to have a better start, but you can’t always have what you want, right?”
Junior Turner, who put up some of the best numbers among defensive lineman during Saturday’s testing, ran the forty yards in 4.87 seconds, just a shade behind the top two D-linemen, and good for third place.
“I’m pleased with it. I know I can do better but everything happens for a reason,” Turner said. “Right now my standing is pretty good,.I just have to focus on finishing up the day strong and capping off a great weekend.”
While some may think a lineman’s merit would be better measured at Saturday’s bench press testing, this is the CFL where speed is required all over the field — not just on the outside.
“The 40-yard is important for us because as a defensive end in the CFL, it’s a speed game,” Turner said. “The field is 65 yards wide, so it’s important to have that speed.”
The two Canadian pivots at E-Camp both put up decent numbers in the forty, with Regina’s Marc Mueller running the forty in 5.10 seconds and Ottawa’s Brad Sinopoli putting up a 4.84.
Mueller, a pocket quarterback, isn’t especially known for his quickness. But Sinopoli has made his name based on the fact he can gain first downs through the air and with his feet.
But for the six-foot-four pivot, his elusiveness often comes from a deceptive slowness, rather than flat out speed.
“I like to think I’m a little more deceptive. I think I’m better at game speed as opposed to straight line speed,” Sinopoli said. “I would have liked to run faster but for now I’m just going to focus on the one-on-ones.”
The final test of the weekend’s E-Camp, when the quarterbacks finally get to strap on some pads and throw the ball around, was clearly at the front of both player’s minds.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting all weekend to just throw the ball,” Sinopli said.
There are only four running backs at the 2011 edition of E-Camp but Calgary’s Matt Walter still made sure to separate himself from the small pack, running his forty yards in a blazing 4.65 seconds.
For Walter, putting up a solid 40 time was integral to hearing his name called at the CFL Entry Draft on May 8.
“The 40 for me is critical. Being a Canadian running back, they’re going to want me on special teams and they’re going to want a guy who can run around and be one of the fastest guys on the field,” Walter said.
Kyle Exume of Bishop’s finished second with 4.74 seconds, closely followed by Central Michigan’s Carl Volny who posted a time of 4.78
Surprise surprise, Henoc Muamba continued to dominate the linebackers’ portion of the E-Camp on Sunday, as the St. Francis Xavier interior linebacker blew through his forty yards in a slick 4.72 seconds.
That was faster than some of the running backs and can only serve to increase Muamba’s draft stock come May. Not only can the six foot, 230-pounder crash the line and stuff the run, he can drop back in coverage as well.
“I feel confident in my abilities,” Muamba said after his run. “I put in a lot of work. This is the point I was working on the most and I’m really satisfied with it.”
Muamba played safety in high school before being converted into a linebacker when he got to St. FX.
With strong testing scores across the board this weekend, the Mississauga, Ontario native could be slotted into either of those positions in the CFL and may be one of the first names off the board come draft day.
“You always want to be getting faster and better day in and day out,” Muamba said. “My performance here is just a testament to all the work I put in and all the guys who have helped motivate me along the way.”
Jeffrey Hecht of Saint Mary’s came in second with a time of 4.79 seconds while Saskatchewan’s Peter Thiel finished third at 4.90 seconds.
The main event finally got started around 1:00 in the afternoon when the wide receivers stepped to the starting line and put up some of the day’s biggest numbers with seven wide outs putting up 40 times of under 4.7 seconds.
Calgary Dino Anthony Parker was the star of the group, running a blurring 4.54 on his first attempt. Always his own toughest critic, afterwards Parker said he was hoping to match the 4.50 mark he set in training.
“I know I had a little more in me so I’m a little upset about that but all in all it’s not a bad performance,” Parker said.
The Okotoks, Alberta native predicted on Saturday that he would put up a big number in the 40-yard dash and when he stepped to the line on Sunday the six-foot-two, 215-pounder didn’t disappoint.
“This is the 100 metres of E-Camp, right. This is the main one all the scouts are looking at,” Parker said. “So I was happy to come out and perform well.”
Coming in second was Harvard’s Marco Iannuzzi who ran a 4.58 on his first attempt, despite slightly tweaking his hamstring.
“It might just be a little dehydration,” Iannuzzi said of the injury. “We’ve been switching up the meals over the past few days. Instead of getting the five square, I’ve been getting three so that could be it.”
Iannuzzi returned later for the individual testing and one-on-one drills.
York Lions cornerback Andre Clarke stole the show Sunday afternoon, running the best 40 time of the entire combine with a 4.50 mark on his first attempt. The Mississauga, Ontario native credited his first few steps, easily the most important strides a sprinter will take, for giving him such a quick time.
“It felt really good. I got a really good start — that helped,” Clarke said. “I could always do better but I’m just excited for being one of the top performers.”
Clarke was a force all weekend, winning the broad jump by a wide margin and finishing third in the vertical jump , just 2.5’’ off the lead. After transferring to York from Manitoba where he couldn’t crack the starting roster, E-Camp weekend was more about redemption than anything for Clarke.
“I have a real big chip on my shoulder,” Clarke said. “Everyone thinks I’m an underdog so I’m just going to go out there and prove that I’m the cream of the crop.”
Shane Herbert of Wilfrid Laurier came in second among the defensive backs, posting a 4.59 time, while Windsor’s Daryl Townsend finished third at 4.64 seconds.