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MONTREAL — Testing season kicks off Friday as 43 prospects take to the field in Montreal at the Eastern Regional Combine.
Thus marks the start of an important month in the Canadian Football League off-season, as Canada’s football future takes the spotlight and young athletes look to prove their worth ahead of the 2017 CFL Draft.
At the first of four combines, including three regional combines and then the CFL Combine presented by adidas from March 23-25, prospects will look to prove their worth and ultimately earn an invite to Regina later in March.
With that, we look at five names you should know about going into the Eastern Regional Combine:
A medical student at the University of Montreal, what Alex Cromer-Emond lacks in size he doesn’t lack in heart. The 5-foot-8, 205-pound linebacker ranked seventh in the RSEQ with 30 unassisted tackles in 2016, including one sack and five tackles for a loss.
Named the RSEQ Rookie of the Year in 2013, Cromer-Emond only improved throughout his four seasons as a Montreal Carabin. In 2014 he was part of the group that captured the Dunsmore Cup, the Uteck Bowl and the Vanier Cup.
Look for Cromer-Emond to put up big numbers on the bench press (he hit 31 reps at the East-West Bowl Combine in 2016) and showcase his ability to play linebacker in one-on-ones.
In four seasons with the Laval Rouge et Or, Alex Hovington won the Uteck Bowl and the Vanier Cup twice, including most recently in 2016.
Hovington is an RSEQ all-star three seasons running and is coming off his most complete season yet, recording 18 tackles, a fumble recovery, an interception – that he returned for a touchdown – and two pass breakups.
The 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back from Saint-Hubert, Que. is a playmaker and will look to put that on display on Friday.
One of nine defensive linemen at Friday’s regional combine, Emile Charron-Ligez will have plenty of competition to earn a spot in Regina.
The four-year Montreal Carabin can wreak havoc on the line of scrimmage, which he did throughout the last two seasons with four sacks and three fumble recoveries. After playing in the East-West Bowl last year, Charron-Ligez broke out with a career season in 2016, recording four sacks (10th in the RSEQ) and seven tackles for loss.
The Montreal native put up 27 reps on the bench press at the East-West Bowl Combine last season.
Harland Hastings was all over the field in 2016, recording 39 unassisted tackles — second in the AUS — while intercepting three passes, breaking up two more and recovering a fumble.
A year removed from posting a 4.57 40 time and a 38-inch vertical at the East-West Bowl Combine, Hastings has played all but one game throughout his four-year CIS career with the Acadia Axemen, proving his durability heading into his draft year.
Throughout 31 career games, Hastings has recorded 82 unassisted tackles and four interceptions. He’ll be hard to miss on Friday in Montreal.
One of this draft class’s unique prospects, Oumar Touré caught 14 passes for 204 yards last season as a tight end for Sherbrooke.
The Montreal native checks in at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and offers versatility as both a blocker and receiver. Last season he played in the East-West Bowl and ran a 4.86 40 at the East-West Bowl Combine.
Officially listed as a receiver, Touré has a chance to open some eyes at the Eastern Regional Combine.