O’Leary: Rams’ Kyle Borsa races to his CFL dream
Kyle Borsa doesn’t know exactly when he’ll hear his name called on May 4, but the fastest player in the 2021 CFL Draft class is ready for it.
“Hearing my name called will be a dream come true,” Borsa told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.
“I can’t even describe it to you, honestly. It’s so much hard work and so much adversity I had to overcome to get here. It’s going to be a great validation of overcoming things and putting in hard work all the time and never letting off the gas.”
Borsa hasn’t been on a football field since the 2018 season, when he rushed for 613 yards on 96 carries in eight games for the Regina Rams, scoring six touchdowns in the process. The six-foot 200-pound running back had amassed 2,195 all-purpose yards in two seasons with his hometown Rams. A failed drug test in 2019 changed everything for him.
Borsa has no problem explaining what happened. He went to a supplement store in Regina and bought something off the shelf that contained higenamine, which was a newly-prohibited product at the time. After his failed test he was handed a 16-month suspension and was due to return for the 2020 season. We all know what that year held for football in Canada.
“Where I made my mistake was I didn’t research what I was putting into my body,” he said.
He’s used the last two seasons — one from the suspension, the other from the cancelled 2020 U SPORTS season — to stay in the gym and to stay sharp. With all of that pent up energy, Borsa submitted some dominant numbers in the virtual National Combine. His 4.46-second 40-yard dash stands at the top of the mountain. He managed 22 reps on the bench press, a 6.8-second three-cone drill, a 4.0-second shuttle and a broad jump of 10-feet, two and ⅛ inch broad jump.
“I wasn’t surprised, necessarily. I knew I was going to put up really good numbers,” Borsa said.
“I was more upset I didn’t get to do it in front of actual scouts, because you had to do it virtually, obviously. It’s good validation of how much work I put into this. Numbers like that don’t really just happen. You have to work for stuff like that. I did a lot to prepare. I dieted for seven, eight months, I didn’t go out. I worked out like a psycho. It was definitely good validation to show that my hard work paid off.”
Those numbers have caught the attention of evaluators across the country. CFL.ca’s draft expert, Marshall Ferguson, has Borsa going 13th overall to Ottawa in his most recent mock draft. There, Ferguson sees a Nic Demski-type situation for him with REDBLACKS coach Paul LaPolice. Borsa, oddly enough, made a Demski comparison on his media call on Tuesday.
The last two years have been some of the most trying that Borsa has faced. He sees the CFL Draft as a light at the end of that tunnel.
“It’s definitely (a sense of redemption) and it’s also a great…symbol of overcoming adversity,” he said.
“I could strongly say that there are a lot of other guys in my position…(that) probably would have moved on from the game and got their degree and kind of moved on with life because football doesn’t last forever anyway. That’s not the route I chose. I chose to stick with it because football is my dream and my passion. I’m happy I did so.”
Raised in Regina by a Rider-loving family and with a father, Cory, that played junior football and won a pair of national championships with the Rams, the storybook outcome on May 4 would be for him to take the next step of his career without having to leave his hometown. When it comes down to it though, Borsa knows that it’s about landing with one of the nine teams in the league and building a career.
Two years away from the game you love can feel like a lifetime, especially when one of those years involves a world-changing global pandemic. Borsa has thought a lot about what it’d be like to be back on the field again, with fans watching him play. Like all of us, he can see a light at the end of the tunnel right now.
“It’s going to be almost weird doing those things that used to be normal, because that’s just not how we’ve been living the last year,” he said. “It’s going to be fun. There’s going to be some adrenalin, for sure. I’m excited for it. I’m sure everyone else is too.”
“There’s nothing like going onto the field and running out of the tunnel with your teammates and your best friends. That’s probably what I miss the most.
“I just miss helping my team win. There’s no better feeling than scoring a touchdown in crunch time and helping your team win a football game. It’s the most satisfying feeling. I’m excited to get the opportunity to do that again.”
With a strong combine showing, it seems that Borsa could soon get his chance.