March 13, 2019

Regional combine loop continues in Montreal

Sherbrooke Athletics

MONTREAL — The second of three regional combines is set to take place Wednesday at the Montreal Scitec Dome, as 39 prospects try to impress the scouts in a display of athletic ability and football acumen.

Fourteen schools/programs are represented in total at the Eastern Regional Combine, with Montreal and Laval leading the way with five players each.

A handful of the top performers will be selected to participate in the CFL National Combine presented by New Era from March 22 to 24 in Toronto, joining the country’s top amateur talent who will look to turn heads before the 2019 CFL Draft on May 2.

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Phil Iloki is coming off back to back productive seasons for Carleton (Valerie Wutti/Carleton Athletics)

A pair of Ottawa-based receivers will be on the radar on Wednesday in Montreal, as Kalem Beaver out of the University of Ottawa and Phil Iloki out of Carleton University look to show off their playmaking ability. Beaver is a dual threat returner/receiver while Iloki is coming off back to back seasons of 30-plus catches and 550-plus yards.

Also out of the nation’s capital, Ottawa’s lengthy defensive back Cody Cranston is worth keeping an eye on. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound defender is a year removed from representing Team East in the U SPORTS East-West Bowl, intercepting seven passes in four seasons with the Gee-Gees.

Mount Allison’s Damien Halstead is one of just four linebackers suiting up on Wednesday. He was a tackle machine in 2018, ranking top-three in the conference in both unassisted tackles (36, third in AUS) and assisted tackles (34, second in AUS). Halstead is a back-to-back AUS All-Star and participated for the East team in last year’s U SPORTS East-West Bowl.

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 11:30 a.m., prospects will take part in the 40-yard dash as well as the short-shuttle and 3-cone drill.

After positional drills and one-on-ones at 2:00 p.m., the final announcement of those invited to the national combine is expected at approximately 4:20 p.m.

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Regional combines have had a strong impact since their inauguration in 2013, with 56 of 74 players (76%) that earned national combine invites being drafted. Fifty of those 74 players are currently on a CFL roster, while eight were been picked in the second round of the CFL Draft.

Marco Dubois, Jordan Hoover, Shaq Johnson, Thomas Miles and Jermaine Gabriel are some notable current CFL players to have come out of regional combines. This year marks the seventh year in a row that the CFL will host regional combines and the fifth year it will host a trio of them.

The 2019 regional combine schedule concludes in Toronto on March 21 with the Ontario Regional Combine, with the national showcase starting the very next day. Three players have already been added to the national roster following the Western Regional Combine, which took place Monday in Edmonton.

At the CFL National Combine presented by New Era, 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 40 players currently on the Western Regional Combine roster, 38 are draft eligible as Ibra Ndiaye (Ottawa) and Kyle MacDonald (Saint Mary’s) are free agents.

– The breakdown of the positions is fairly even with eight receivers and defensive linemen each leading the way (Full breakdown: 8 WR, 8 DL, 7 DB, 6 RB, 4 LB, 4 OL, 2 K, 1 QB).

– 14 schools/programs will be represented, led Montreal and Laval with five each. The full breakdown is as follows: Montreal (5), Laval (5), Carleton (4), St. Francis Xavier (4), Sherbrooke (4), Mount Allison (3), Concordia (3), Saint Mary’s (3), Ottawa (3), Bishop’s (2), Acadia (1), NC Wesleyan (1), Trinity College (1), Ottawa Junior Riders (1)