After strutting around in their CFL issued Reebok compression shorts for physical measurements, jumping, pressing, sprinting and being put under the spotlight in team interviews, Evaluation Camp participants finally got the chance to pad up on Sunday afternoon.
In front of arguably the biggest group of E-Camp spectators to ever make their way inside the bubble over the Varsity Stadium football field to take in the football drills, a number of prospects rose to the occasion.
“What I liked was the competition level,” Calgary Stampeders offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson said. “I will tell you I think the receiver group was a strong group.”
Balls were being slung around the field, after the big linemen cleared out from the morning session, and Canada’s top skill position players were squaring off in front all the CFL personnel decision makers.
“These are the best of the best,” Queen’s University receiver Johnny Aprile said.
Aprile, who is a physically imposing pass target, showed well in the marquee football related event of the day: receiver versus defensive back one-on-ones.
Fellow OUA pass catcher, Windsor’s Jordan Brescacin used the period to show that he is at his best when in a pure football setting.
“I think Brescacin showed that he can run good routes and create separation,” said a scout from one of the CFL’s East Division teams.
On one pass pattern in particular, Brescacin lined up in the left slot, burst full speed off the line stuttered and head-faked a hook at 10 yards, causing the defensive back covering on the play to bite while the six-foot-four target breezed past his defender for an easy reception and a would be score and drawing oohs and awes from the crowd of onlookers.
However, by no means did the defensive backs end the session without having some standouts among their own group.
St. Francis Xavier cover man, Dylan Hollohan proved he was capable of shadowing Canada’s top receivers with the best of them.
“Hollohan stood out in the DB drills,” one Canadian talent evaluator said. “He’s got the athleticism, I think he could have the ability to make it as a Canadian corner.”
One of Hollohan’s fellow DBs, Saskatchewan’s Bryce McCall was fairly quiet over the course of the three-day camp, especially when you consider he was the highest ranked defensive back on the CFL’s central scouting bureau list coming in.
“The one-on-ones went fairly well. I don’t do a lot of man-to-man coverage, playing safety in the scheme that we run at Saskatchewan,” McCall said “So, I felt that I did very well considering that I have had very few one-on-one matchups in games.”
The same thoughts were echoed by at least one CFL scout about the eighth rated player in the January rankings heading into E-Camp.
“For McCall, this isn’t really his best setting, but I think he showed better than most of us would’ve thought in the one-on-ones.”
There were three quarterbacks showing off their arms against the defenders on Sunday. McMaster’s Kyle Quinlan came into Evaluation Camp with a lot of momentum after beating Laval in the 2011 Vanier Cup, carving up their vaunted defence to the tune of 482 yards through the air.
“Kyle’s got a little bit better anticipation and was a little more accurate than the others,” one scout said. “He also showed some nice touch at times too.”
Along with Quinlan, Hec Crighton winner Bill Greene and Acadia’s Kyle Graves were the other quarterbacks on display.
“Honestly, I thought they all threw the ball pretty well and they performed about like I thought,” said Dickenson, a former CFL quarterback, who was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2000, of the Canadian pivots in attendance.
“I think certain guys have great pocket presence and can play the game, but you can’t see that in this sort of an environment.”
At the end of the day, the highest ranked skill position prospect provided the biggest ‘wow’ factor and all but cemented his status as the best receiver looking forward towards the 2012 Canadian draft, and he’s not afraid to proclaim it either.
“I definitely solidified that I am one of the best athletes in the country,” Shamawd Chambers said.
His E-Camp best 4.42 electronically timed 40 would serve as sufficient evidence to support Chambers’ claim. Add to that his solid showing in the one-on-ones and the Wilfrid Laurier grad can leave Toronto with a sweet taste in his mouth, both figuratively and literally.
“Now I don’t have to be only eating only chicken and vegetables, I want some gluten products. That’s what I want,” Chambers said.
“I haven’t eaten any gluten for awhile so I’m going to get myself some carbs and grab some french fries. I can’t wait.”
Just like Chambers salivating thinking about his french fries, many CFL teams have certainly been left with much food for thought as the 2012 Evaluation Camp has come to a close.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|