Arden Zwelling is a media and information graduate from The University of Western Ontario where he worked as a sports and associate editor at the Gazette, Canada’s only campus daily. He is also a web editor and blogger for The Score where his University Rush blog was featured during the 2010 CIS football season. Follow Arden on Twitter at @ArdenZwelling.
Don’t be surprised to see scouts from the B.C. Lions paying extra close attention to Henoc Muamba this weekend. The gifted linebacker from Mississauga, Ontario is practically destined to be a Lion.
At least it would seem that way after the 2011 Grey Cup hosts drafted two of the biggest role models in Muamba’s life in the 2010 CFL Canadian Draft.
Muamba’s brother Cauchy was a standout safety for the Saint Francis Xavier X-Men before being selected by the Lions in the fifth round, 34th overall, at the 2010 Draft.
At St. FX Cauchy lived with a promising wide receiver and X-Men teammate by the name of Akeem Foster, a CIS All-Canadian who was also drafted by the Lions in 2010, with the 25th overall pick.
Cauchy and Akeem still live together on the opposite side of the country where they play for the Lions. It seems it would only be fitting if the three were reunited under one roof, with Hanoc joining them on the west coast.
“I look at those guys as role models and older brothers,” Muamba said. “They’re great athletes and great players who always motivate each other and me to be a better athlete and a better person.”
The 2010 President’s Trophy winner as the top defensive player in the country, Muamba is coming off a CIS first team All-Canadian season in which he led the AUS with 47 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
It earned him a number ten ranking on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s list of the top fifteen prospects and an invite to this weekend’s CFL Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok in Toronto.
“I’m really happy that football brought me to St. FX and let me meet such great people. People that become my brothers – people I look up to,” Muamba said. “Football’s gotten me through a lot of stuff. It’s gotten me to where I am right now.”
The Lions may very well take Muamba with the third pick in this year’s CFL Draft. That is if he isn’t snatched up in the two picks after putting on a show during Saturday’s testing which caused some CFL talent evaluators to call him the top pick in May’s entry draft.
Muamba led all linebackers through the three tests on Saturday, pushing up 25 repetitions on the 225 lbs. bench press, soaring 35.5 inches north in the vertical jump and leaping 10.05 feet in the broad jump.
His broad jump and bench press scores also landed him in the top ten of both categories among all E-Camp participants, the kind of versatility and all-around skill that makes CFL scouts drool.
And if not for what he called a disappointing performance, his vertical jump would have found him in the top ten as well.
“I was hoping for something closer to forty,” Muamba, St. FX’s all-time tackles leader with 149.5, said of his vertical performance. “But I’ll live with that. I’m a hard critic on myself. I have big goals in mind.”
The biggest goal is obviously to make the CFL, one that seems almost assured of being achieved as seemingly every team at E-Camp wants a chance to talk to the business information systems major.
The six-foot, 230-pounder had several interviews Friday night and suddenly ended up with six more scheduled for Saturday night, a testament to Muamba’s performance during the first day of testing.
Muamba’s busy Saturday night will be a challenging gauntlet of grilling by CFL coaches and scouts. But it’s a challenge Muamba is more than willing to undertake.
It’s just the next step in achieving his goals.
“It’s going to be a long night, that’s for sure. But you got to do what you got to do,” Muamba said after wrapping up testing Saturday. “I’m happy with how I’ve achieved my goals as a player and a person from my first year of university until now. Hopefully I’ll move on to the next level.”
Foster – whose trademark sandwich at a Saint Francis Xavier cafeteria, The Akeem Dream, Muamba enjoys frequently – provided the moral support, telling Muamba exactly what to expect at E-Camp and how to carry himself.
Meanwhile, Muamba spent the months leading up to E-Camp training with his brother Cauchy, a guy who should know a thing or two about performing at the CFL level.
“Cauchy has been there all my life – he’s been encouraging me from the moment I was born,” Muamba said. “And Akeem has taught me a lot. I learned how to have a heart and go after things you want. Dream big is lesson one from Akeem.”
Muamba also made an important phone call before E-Camp, to 2009 President’s Trophy winner and Toronto Argonauts draft pick Cory Greenwood.
The third overall pick in the 2010 CFL Entry Draft made a big impact at last year’s E-Camp and, coincidentally, re-signed with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.
“Yes, I also talked to the other president,” Muamba joked. “He gave me a few tips here and there and after that there was nothing at E-Camp that really struck me or surprised me today. I was expecting everything that came.”
Despite his strong showing Saturday, the best from Muamba may be yet to come.
He has his sights set on running a solid forty-yard dash in Sunday’s marquee event and is absolutely chomping at the bit to strap on the pads and take part in the one-on-one drills that conclude E-Camp.
Regardless of how well he does Sunday, for this year’s early E-Camp star it all comes back to preparation.
“I came here focused. I came here ready. I was preparing for this for a really long time,” Muamba said. “I wanted to do all this a week ago, I was so prepared.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|