For Wilfrid Laurier’s defensive lineman Robbie Smith, preparation for the biggest job interview of his life started early.
After getting his invitation to the CFL Combine presented by New Era, Smith started working with an old friend and teammate who had been through the process before, former Golden Hawk and current Edmonton Eskimo Kwaku Boateng.
“In preparing for this, he (Boateng) was with me on Friday evenings,” said Smith on Friday, the start of his combine weekend. “We were doing bag drills and defensive line drills. (He was) showing me different moves and stuff like that, different stances and different ways to hit different moves.”
Throughout their time playing together as members of the Golden Hawks – Smith was in his first and second year when Boateng was in his third and fourth – the Esks defensive end taught Smith valuable lessons on and off the field.
Smith runs the 40-yard dash on Sunday morning (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
“One of the first things he taught me was how to manage my time,” said Smith. “He said to plan out every single thing that you’re going to do in a day to make sure that I was where I needed to be on and off the field. That was something that he really taught me. Even on the field, just showing me what you need to do to be successful and how hard you need to work and the things you need to go through.”
That hard work and determination payed off as Smith impressed scouts and general managers all weekend long in Toronto.
On Saturday, he put up 23 reps on the bench press and jumped 36″ in the vertical jump, the highest for a defensive lineman since Stefan Charles in 2013.
“I just went out there and I tried to jump as high as I could,” Smith said, who was aiming for a 34″ or 35″ on his jump. “Obviously I’m very surprised but I’m very happy with the results so that’s awesome.”
He finished with the fastest 40-yard dash (4.78 seconds) and 3-cone (7.34 seconds) of all defensive lineman on Sunday while also posting the sixth-best broad jump (10’1.13″). The six-foot-two, 242-pounder also finished the shuttle with a time of 4.46 seconds.
“Robbie really blew me away with his athleticism,” said CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson. “Based on his body type and structure, I didn’t expect numbers like that but I’m happy for him as it only adds to his ability to crash the first round party.”
Not only was Smith hoping to leave scouts and GMs impressed by that athleticism, he wanted them to see what kind of person he was off the field. That opportunity would come during the team interviews, another part of the combine process that Boateng helped Smith get ready for.
Smith gets warmed up ahead of Sunday’s circuit (Peter Power/CFL.ca)
“I’m hoping to leave a really good impression, especially with my demeanour off the field,” said Smith, before he did his interviews with teams. “(I want to) seem to be a responsible guy, a knowledgeable person. Someone that’s dependable and reliable. Someone that’s gong to work hard and someone that’s going to compete for their position. I want them to know that.”
Smith, who was ranked 12th on December’s edition of the CFL Scouting Bureau, was sound in his one-on-one reps on Sunday afternoon, proving his consistency on the field in the trenches.
“His one-on-ones were nothing spectacular but very consistent,” said Ferguson. “What I like about Robbie is he’s a responsible pass rusher. He very rarely will take the risk of giving up a home run in order to try hitting one. He’s the type of player a defensive coordinator could build a national group around.”
Now, with the CFL Combine in the books, all that’s next for Smith is to wait to hear his name called on May 2.
“It would mean the world to me to get drafted, wherever I go, whenever I go,” smiled Smith. “I’d love to get drafted and to be able to play on a CFL team, that would mean the world to me.”
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