March 17, 2023

Adeboboye, Penney-Laryea used Combine to take next step

Kevin Sousa/

Long before they hoisted the Grey Cup on a cold night in Regina, even prior to earning their spot on the team, Toronto Argonauts running back Daniel Adeboboye and linebacker Enoch Penney-Laryea proved themselves at last year’s CFL Combine.

The numbers Adeboboye and Penney-Laryea posted at the combine showed they not only had the talent, but the mental attributes to play professional football.

“We’re both guys who are pretty physically gifted,” said Adeboboye, who was born in Toronto and played his college football with the Bryant Bulldogs, an NCAA Division I school in Rhode Island, N.Y. “I had that confidence knowing what I was capable of doing. Honestly, I was just excited to show everyone the abilities that that I had.”

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Enoch Penney-Laryea was one of four players to advance from the Ontario Regional Combine in 2022 to the CFL Combine later in March (Christian Bender)

Penney-Laryea first turned heads at the Ontario Regional Combine in Waterloo, Ont., then was invited to the CFL Combine in Toronto.

“That kind of put me in a position to help coaches see how much potential I had as an athlete,” said Penney-Laryea. “It was a gateway into being drafted. It also was a great opportunity for me to showcase who I was as a person.”

His performance in Toronto convinced Penney-Laryea he could be an actor on the CFL stage.

“Seeing my numbers actually jump up from my performance at the regional, and putting up better numbers at the national, it really kind of validated to myself that I had earned the right to be here,” he said. “I was as good a performer as any of the other athletes. It was a great feeling.”

This year’s CFL combine begins Wednesday at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium Field House. It will attract the top National and Global prospects and features a revamped five-day format.

Adeboboye and Penney-Laryea followed different paths to the Argonauts.

The five-foot-nine, 218-pound Adeboboye rose up the CFL Scouting Bureau Rankings after rushing for 1,816 yards and 16 touchdowns in 34 games with the Bulldogs. He also had 49 receptions for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

At the combine, he led all National prospects by bench pressing 225 pounds 28 times. He ran the 40 yards in 4.69 seconds and had a vertical leap of 37.50 inches.

“I think I could have run a better 40 for sure,” said the 23-year-old. “I’m satisfied with what happened. I definitely did enough to put my name on the board and turn a few heads.”

It wasn’t just what Adeboboye did in the drills skills that impressed the coaches. It also was his calm demeanour when answering questions.

“I was articulate, sounded cool and collected, just like a regular conversation,” he said. “It just showed you’re a regular guy, you’re a good person who has good morals and would be a good representative for the team.

“It was something that really helped my case.”

The six-foot-one, 230-pound Penney-Laryea was born in Ghana and moved to Tuckahoe, N.Y., with his family when he was nine. He first attended Union College in New York State where he played running back.

After a strong showing at the CFL Combine in Toronto in 2022, the Toronto Argonauts selected Adeboboye in the second round (Kevin Sousa/

For academic reasons he decided to attend McMaster University in Hamilton where he shifted to linebacker and defensive end due to a foot injury.

Between 2018 and 2021 he played 12 games, registering 55 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, one interception, and two forced fumbles.

The steepest learning curve for Penney-Laryea as a linebacker was learning pass coverage.

“Pass coverage was one part of my game that I’ve always known I had to work on,” said the 25-year-old. “Taking those one-on-one reps (at the combine) just kind of showed me what I needed to polish up.

“I feel like I’m a sponge at this point of my career.”

Penney-Laryea finished second to Adeboboye with 27 reps of the bench press. He ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds and had a vertical leap of 39.50 inches.

What impressed him most was the way the coaches from the different teams spoke to him.

“I got a lot of really good advice,” he said. “Just tips in general that weren’t always football related, just kind of life skills.

“Looking back, I was surprised at how much feedback I was getting. It felt like they were looking at me as more than just a player but as a person. It made it feel like there was a real connection there.”

The Argos drafted Adeboboye 15th overall in the 2022 CFL Draft then took Penney-Laryea 26th.

At the combine, Adeboboye was told he would have to excel at special teams if he hoped to earn a spot on any CFL team. It was a challenge he gladly accepted.

“I went in with the mentally this season to be the best special teams player I could be,” he said. “I knew if they could trust me with a little then could end up trusting me with a lot.

“If they could trust me with special teams, they could trust me being a running back.”


In 16 games this year Adeboboye had 17 special teams tackles and was Toronto’s nominee for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. He also carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards and caught four passes for 16 yards.

Playing on the same team as childhood idol Andrew Harris was a special thrill.

“He was one of the first people to reach out to me,” said Adeboboye said. “He made me feel welcome from the start.”

Penny-Laryea played 15 games as a rookie, recording two special teams tackles. In a July 24 game in Regina he recovered a fumble on a kickoff and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.

Toronto’s 24-23 upset victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 109th Grey Cup was like a storybook ending for both players.

“It’s one of those things you can’t write,” said Adeboboye. “To get drafted by my  hometown team. To get to play with legends and a lot of people I grew up  watching on TV. To win a championship.

“The younger me would be so happy that I got to  experience this because it’s something you dream of as a kid.”

Penny-Laryea credited the CFL Combine with helping to turn his dream into a reality.

“Last year was crazy,” he said. “So much happened in a such a short span.

“I think the combine overall did a really good job in helping me prepare for the next level.”

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