For a little while there, Nathan Riva was the fastest guy in E-Camp.
The Western University running back left the bubbled dome at the University of Toronto early on Sunday afternoon with a 4.47 under his belt. But he had a feeling it might not last.
“I hope it stands up,” he said, moments before leaving to celebrate what he felt was a very good showing at camp.
“We’ve got the receivers and DB’s coming up, so, you never know, I could lose it.”
Less than 30 minutes later, that feeling came true.
Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers equaled Riva’s mark with his first attempt, then broke it with his second, clocking the camp’s best time at 4.42.
For Chambers, his vapour trail time meant he’d accomplished his mission.
“I came here and I did what I was supposed to do,” said the Markham, Ontario native. “My goal was to be the fastest guy here. I’m satisfied with the day.”
“I’m excited,” he continued. “I’m extremely excited and I can’t wait until this ride comes to the next chapter.”
The next chapter would be draft day, May 3rd. In the most recent CFL Scouting Bureau prospect rankings, released in January, Chambers had dropped two spots to fourth. He believes part of the reason may have been a nagging ankle injury.
“It dogged me through the entire season,” he said.
Hamilton Tiger Cats Vice President of Football Operations, Bob O’Billovich echoed that sentiment, previously saying that he thought a bad ankle had slowed the Laurier speedster down. O’Billovich already knew what Chambers was capable of, pointing out that all CFL teams have a pretty good handle on the players at nearby universities.
Now, with a bigger audience, Chambers’ stock may rise again.
“I think he improved (his stock), because everybody got to see him,” continued O’Billovich.
“It wasn’t just us who might know him better than some other teams at this point in time. Getting out in front of the teams and the coaches and the personnel people, I’m sure he made some positive impressions.”
“He’s got size, he runs well, I think he’s going to be a first round draft pick for sure.”
O’Billovich stopped short of predicting that for Riva, but he was effusive in his praise for the second fastest man at camp.
“He was impressive physically, today. He certainly ran fast for a running back, that’s for sure. He showed enough athletically, that he might even have the potential to be a slotback. His physical attributes and his testing stood out during the evaluation camp. I think this helped out his situation as far as somebody having an interest in him.”
Riva, who would like to be drafted in the first or second round, will be happy to hear that.
“I put everything I had into training and I hope it pays off,” he said. “I hope the CFL scouts noticed that I trained hard. They said ‘go out and show us that you can catch the ball, that you can run routes and be fast.’ I think I did all that today.”
Putting everything into it means training a little differently than he normally would. It gives us some insight into the work necessary for any player to turn the heads of CFL coaches and general managers at an evaluation camp such as this.
“It’s a much different process than training for a football season,” said Riva.
“Right now, none of these guys are fit enough to play 60 minutes of football. Because you’re only training for the drills. So your cardiovascular endurance isn’t up like it would be, say, for a football season. If you train for that, you’re probably going to lack a little bit of speed and probably a little bit of strength.”
The fastest linebackers at E-Camp finished in a dead heat. Laval’s Frederic Plesius, the top ranked draft eligible linebacker (number six, overall) ran the 40 in a time of 4.63. St. Catharines, Ontario’s Rene Stephan, who played for Harding College in Arkansas, equaled that.
Among the defensive backs, Saskatchewan’s Keenan MacDougall and St. Francis Xavier’s Dylan Hollohan continued their weekend battle, one that saw them splitting victories in the vertical and broad jumps. MacDougall nipped Hollohan by a hundredth of a second, clocking a 4.52.