It’s football combine season! It’s that special time of the CFL off-season that breaks up the airspace between free agency and the CFL draft. I graduated from McMaster back in the ye olde times of 1998, so this is the point of the year where I scan Top-20 eligible prospects rankings to check in on any potential Marauders.
On a totally unrelated note, there are several CFL teams that could use a linebacker like Nate Edwards for immediate help on special teams and valuable depth at that position.
Let’s be honest, if you’re looking for hardcore analysis of the upcoming crop of draft hopefuls, I would suggest you check out all the fine work being done by some of the other writers on this site. I never miss the draft, even back when the only way you could watch it was to stream it at TSN.ca. However, there is nothing as disingenuous in the sports media world than when someone from my ilk explains why Team X needs to take Player Y.
Most of the time these individuals have only seen a handful of games and are just throwing darts hoping to get 51 per cent of their mock draft correct. So instead of giving you false projections of what is to come with all the upcoming combines I want to direct your attention to the fact that we have not one but two sets of twins looking to take the next step in their football careers.
Am I biased by this because I am a twin? Possibly. But this is just not something we see very often…unless of course if you’re a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Herdman-Reed twins, Jordan and Justin, were born two minutes apart and in 2021 were both a part of Saskatchewan’s linebacking corps. However, they are the exception and not the rule when it comes to twin pairing. In the late 1950’s, Charles and Ray Baillie were members of the same Montreal Alouettes’ offensive line. In 1991, Bruce and Allan Boyko caught passes for Saskatchewan. Raphael and Raphaol Ball not only shared the same womb in 1974 but then 26 years later, they also shared in a Grey Cup victory. They were a part of a history-making team BC Lions team in 2000 that won the Cup with a losing record.
For this year’s twin tandems, let’s start with Jalen (second on the prospects rankings) and Tyson (fifth), the Philpot twins from the Calgary Dinos. From a football standpoint, both these young men could immediately contribute no matter where they are drafted. They have the physical attributes and collegiate productivity where no one would be surprised to see them produce early in their respective CFL careers.
When it comes to this month’s National Combine, I am demanding two things. First, no matter what the drill is they must go back-to-back. I love hearing stories of just how competitive they were as kids or the famous story of how they both have a 107-yard reception in university, but Tyson has the upper hand as he made it into the endzone while Jalen was tackled at the three-yard line; advantage Tyson.
I will watch these two receivers do battle at the combine no matter how grainy the video is or how spotty my wifi is. I’m here for a full day of 40 times, bench press and vertical jumps all wrapped around the theme of “anything you can do I can do better.”
As a twin, if I were in Tyson’s cleats, I would be more than thrilled to best my brother on combine day if it meant I could close the gap in the pre-draft rankings. On a slight tangent, I find their 2021 statistics hilarious as their production was, yes, nearly identical. Jalen had two more receptions and 48 more yards. The only real discrepancy is touchdowns, where Tyson had nine compared to three for Jalen. I’d love to ask Calgary’s quarterback, Josiah Joseph if he felt any pressure to have an even number of targets for his two best wide-outs, much the same way parents of twins must ensure that both get the exact same amount of ice-cream for dessert.
If I kept strict records as a chubby seven-year-old about how many scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream I got after dinner compared to my twin brother you can bet an ultra-competitive football player would be doing the same with balls thrown his way compared to his equally-skilled brother. One final request for the Philpot twins: Can you please go full Sedin and demand that you must be drafted together? Force a team to use two first rounders on both of you. This league is filled with far too many polite, accommodating players. Let’s get some drama, some controversy this draft season beyond, “Wait, Chris Jones did what??”
Before moving on, let it be said the mere existence of these two excellent receivers makes me feel old. I remember as a first-year McMaster student watching their father Cory win the Grey Cup as a member of the Lions over the hated Baltimore Colts/CFLers/Stallions.
When it comes to the Ford twins, Tre and Tyrell, I am hoping for a different storyline. Tre, the only quarterback on the Top-20 prospects rankings and his twin brother Tyrell, who is the second-highest defensive back on the list, have the sort of rivalry you would expect from twin brothers growing up in that sort of competitive environment.
I love this quote Tyrell gave to The Canadian Press about his speed, saying: “I don’t want to jinx anything but I’ll say I ran a very, very good time and it was faster than Tre’s. But for now, that’s all you guys are going to get.”
So just like with the Philpot twins, I would love to see them compete against one another during the combine. In fact, instead of having them run the 40 one at a time why not have them run on a track against one another?
Why can’t we turn the combine into a mini football Olympics with the top prospects lining up and racing against one another? Doesn’t that sound far more entertaining than each athlete competing against a stopwatch? Unlike Jalen and Tyson, I don’t want to see Tre and Tyrell on the same team. As I mentioned above, though it is rare, there are examples of twin brothers playing for the same organization.
What about a CFL world where one brother is trying to throw a touchdown pass against the other brother? I’ve written thousands of words about how a successful, starting Canadian quarterback would seriously move the needle among the casual Canadian sports fan. But I never considered the possibility of this Canadian quarterback losing a game because his twin brother came up with a late game interception! Has that ever happened in football before?
Could you imagine the lead up to a game where Tre is doing things not seen in the CFL in decades, beyond those brief moments with Brandon Bridge, about to take on an opposing secondary where one of their members is his twin brother? The pre-game hype would be well deserved. Don’t we all get excited as sports fans when we get a chance to see something truly unique?
I know the possibility of this happening one day is slim, but it is far from impossible. Tre at six-foot-two has more than enough height to compete in the CFL. I imagine he will need to bulk up from his current weight, but he put up big stats during his Hec Crighton-winning season. His brother Tyrell also has the size and speed (they’re both members of the Waterloo track team) to make a living for some Canadian defensive backfield. Both are good enough to be in the Top-10 of the prospects list and both are competitive enough to do what needs to be done during combine season to get drafted down the road.
The question is, will we get to see their sibling rivalry spill out on the field down the road?