March 17, 2017

Preview: Hopes run high with Ontario Regional Combine

University of Waterloo

TORONTO — The future is at stake for 42 of the country’s top amateur prospects on Friday, as the Ontario Regional Combine arrives in Toronto.

It’s the second of four combines this month — including regional combines in Montreal, Toronto and Regina — as prospective draft picks aim to prove their worth ahead of the CFL Draft on May 7.

The top performers on Friday will earn an invite to the CFL Combine presented by adidas, which takes place March 23-25 in Regina.

» Roster: Ontario Regional Combine
» 5 move on from Eastern Regional
» Marsh’s top prospect comparisons

University of Toronto

Toronto defensive back Richard Gillespie will be one to keep an eye on this Friday (University of Toronto)

Queen’s defensive end Zac Sauer is among can’t-miss prospects this time around, as the 6-foot-3, 236-pound pass rusher comes in with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. Last year, Sauer participated in the East-West Bowl, hitting 18 reps on the bench.

Scouts also got a glimpse of Toronto defensive back Richard Gillespie at last year’s East-West Bowl. Gillespie, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound defender, ran a 4.65 while putting up 16 reps on the bench.

Last year, 17 players from regional combines were extended an invitation to the CFL Combine, 10 of those being selected in the 2016 CFL Draft. Half of those 10 drafted came from the Toronto Regional Combine including receiver Shaquille Johnson, linebacker Kevin Jackson, defensive lineman Michael Kashak, fullback Nathan O’Halloran and receiver Jamal Kett.

Johnson and Jackson were both fourth-round picks while the former, a receiver from the London Beefeaters, has a bright future catching passes for the BC Lions.

Friday’s regional will also include one international free agent (Brandyn Bartlett, a linebacker out of Tusculum) and six national free agents. The remaining 35 prospects are eligible for the CFL Draft.

» 5 players to track at the Ontario Regional Combine

Queen's University

Zac Sauer was his school’s leader in sacks over the last two seasons (Queen’s University)

Testing starts at 9:30 a.m. ET with height and weight, hand and arm measurements, video shot, vertical and broad jumps and the bench press. At 12:50 p.m., prospects will take part in the highly-anticipated 40-yard dash as well as the short shuttle and 3-cone drill.

After positional drills and one-on-ones at 2:30 p.m., the final announcement of those invited to the national combine is expected at approximately 4:40 p.m.

2017 is the fifth year row that the CFL will host regional combines and the third year it will host a trio of them. The first regional combine took place in Montreal on March 10 as five prospects earned invites to the national combine.

The Western Regional Combine on March 23 will set the table for the national combine, which begins the same night at Evraz Place in Regina.

At the CFL Combine presented by adidas, players will undergo medical examinations; performance, strength and speed tests; on-field football drills; and team interviews over a span of three days in front of coaches, scouts and general managers.

By the Numbers: 

– Of the 42 players currently on the Ontario Regional Combine roster, 35 are draft eligible.

– While the field is fairly split, nine receivers lead the way among most popular positions (Full breakdown: 9 WR, 7 OL, 6 LB, 6 DB, 6 DL, 5 RB, 1 FB, 1 P/K, 1 P).

– 16 schools/programs will be represented, led by the six from Windsor. The full breakdown is as follows: Windsor (6), Wilfrid Laurier (5), Guelph (5), Queen’s (5), Toronto (4), McMaster (4), Hamilton Hurricanes (2), Western University (2), York (1), Laval (1), Tusculum (1), Windsor AKO (1), Norwich (1), Eastern New Mexico (1), UCLA (1), Waterloo (1) and the GTA Grizzlies (1)