March 29, 2019

O’Leary: CFL Combine was new territory for UNLV’s Kyle Saxelid

Peter Power/

The offers have been there, Kyle Saxelid said during combine weekend, falling into his lap since he graduated from UNLV almost two years ago with a degree in business management.

Tech companies have tried to sway him, lure him into that open chair at a desk in their offices, where a healthy starting wage and the promise of moving on with his life would be at his fingertips.

Instead, the six-foot-seven, 290-pound offensive tackle from Elk Grove, Cali. spent the past weekend in Toronto working out in front of CFL personnel, trying to extend a football career that he’s not ready to have end yet.

He’s been playing with the Cedar Rapids Kings in the Indoor Football League, but the game is much different than what he’s used to. There are only eight offensive players on the field, with three of them o-linemen.

» Germany’s Hansen amazed by CFL Combine experience
» Sitting in on prospect interviews at the CFL Combine
» Global players ‘fit right in’ at CFL Combine

Saxelid talks to Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea and assistant general manager Ted Goveia (Johany Jutras/

“It’s just fun to get back to outdoor ball. Especially playing tackle like I do, to have that edge and a little more space in there is cool,” he said after finishing up one-on-ones with d-linemen on Sunday at the University of Toronto.

“It’s great, I got to hang out with o-linemen every day and some d-linemen. It’s always cool to meet new people.”

Spend any amount of time with Saxelid and you quickly pick up on an outgoing personality and someone that’s comfortable with his surroundings the second he gets into them. The combine was new territory for him, figuratively and literally. Saxelid grew up in California and his mother, Cheryl, was born in New Brunswick, adopted at birth and moved to the U.S.

The combine was his first time in Canada.

“I always knew I was Canadian,” he said.

“When I was little in school I was like, ‘I‘m half-Canadian, I’m a little different than you guys, I’m cool.’ Then going through college it just didn’t cross my mind. I was lucky to get into college in the first place, so I took it, I was happy to be there.”

A starter for three-and-a-half years at UNLV, he found out in his senior year in 2017 that he’d caught the eyes of NFL scouts as a possible late-round pick or as someone a team might sign after the draft. When that didn’t work out, he started looking at the CFL.

It wasn’t until he was at the Saskatchewan Roughriders mini-camp in Florida about a year ago that he casually mentioned that he was Canadian. That changed everything for him.

“It just came up too late. I got my citizenship at the latter part of last year,” he said. “Now I’m here and having a great time and just enjoying it for what it is.”

His first weekend in Canada was a busy one. He interviewed with every team in the league except the Calgary Stampeders, he said and was pleased with his overall performance.

“When I was little in school I was like, ‘I‘m half-Canadian, I’m a little different than you guys, I’m cool.'”

Kyle Saxelid

Saxelid smiles before participating in the bench press on Saturday (Peter Power/

He posted a personal best 29.5-inch vertical jump, a nine-feet, 2.13-inch broad jump, a 4.77-second shuttle, a 7.85-second three-cone drill and hit 20 reps in the bench press.

He would have liked to have heard his name called more in the one-on-ones on Sunday and had one other aspect of his weekend he’d like to re-do.

“My 40…ehhh, we won’t talk about that,” he said of running 5.33-seconds. “But you know, it’s whatever right?

“I play football and that’s what it is. If they want to see how fast I can do these things when I specifically train for them I already did a pro day and everything, but I had a great time. This was really fun.

“In the end the one-on-ones are what matter. I feel like I did pretty well in them. Got caught a little on the inside with that but I didn’t let them touch the bag.”

One CFL GM figured Saxelid would be taken around the middle of the draft. Between now and then, Saxelid said he needed to figure out what he’d do with his Indoor League commitment. He said he’d play the team’s next game and would give his future more thought after that.

“(Playing) in the Indoor League, it’s a lot harder on the body than the outdoor game is just because of how hard the ground is and the confines of the field,” he said.

“I got some mixed reviews on whether or not to keep doing it. I’ll see what happens there but in the end my time is probably going to be split between there and doing some more training and getting ready for the draft after that.”