Costabile: Camaraderie, skill at the forefront of D-line at Combine

The CFL Combine presented by New Era is a chance for prospects to show off their skills in front of CFL scouts, general managers and coaches, but it’s also an opportunity for them to connect with other athletes from all over the world and talk shop.

After Saturday’s practice session at Commonwealth Stadium’s Field House, a pair of defensive linemen were spotted standing together on the sidelines. They were showing each other tips and tricks and the technique behind their signature moves. Global prospect Hidetora Hanada was explaining and demonstrating his spin to Lake Korte-Moore while the UBC product showed off his swipe swim.

“We’ve been connecting all week,” Korte-Moore smiled when asked about his interaction with Hanada. “It started the first night we got here when we played ping pong together and it was a lot of fun. He’s an awesome guy, very outgoing. All the guys from Japan are very outgoing. Yesterday we just were talking technique.

“He told me he wanted to see the move that I do and learn from me. And then at the same time, I want to learn from him and learn the move that he perfected, which a lot of people saw the spin that he does pretty fast.”

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Hanada turned heads during the pass rush one-on-one period, showing off good technique in a handful of moves, including his signature spin that had the entire defensive line group erupt in cheers.

“One thing that’s super cool is Hanada,” said BC Lions defensive assistant Tanya Henderson, who coached the defensive line at the Combine. “He’s never played, he’s practiced, and I think it really showcases that an athlete is an athlete. Often we get caught up in how many years have guys played and prioritizing that. But sometimes having a fresh slate can go a long way.”

Korte-Moore also impressed throughout the week in the padded period, showing he can lineup on both the interior and the edge. He tested well, he said he was happy with most of his numbers, tying with Saint Mary’s Aidan John for the best vertical jump of all D-linemen at 35″ and throwing up 18 reps on the bench.

The six-foot-three, 264-pounder’s efforts earned him one of Marshall Ferguson’s 3 Stars on Saturday and upped his stock ahead of the CFL Draft on May 2.

“He’s got a huge frame and his enthusiasm is infectious,” said Ferguson of Korte-Moore, who was ranked No. 10 on the latest Scouting Bureau. “He was trying to bring the whole building to life, I think, during the pass rush one-on-ones, which was great to see. He’s an extremely appealing prospect and I think he’ll probably be close to or be a first rounder at this point.”


There were a few other prospects in the defensive line group that used the Combine to their advantage. Aidan John was one of them. The six-foot-three, 248-pounder stood out during the pass rush one-on-ones at the Invitational Combine in Waterloo earlier this month, earning himself an invite to the big stage.

And throughout the week in Edmonton, he proved he belonged with the best of the best. He won the majority of his reps, showing off his strength and technique, and received an hounourable mention from coaches when they voted on the top defensive player after the second day of practice.

It was also clear that he worked on his craft in the few weeks between the Combines, improving his vertical jump from 32″ to 35″ and adding one rep to his bench (14 at the Invitational and 15 at the big show). He also shaved time off his 40-yard dash (he ran a 4.88 at the Invitational and a 4.85 last week).

“I wouldn’t have guessed that (he was an Invitational Combine invite),” said Henderson when asked about John’s journey to the Combine. “I think that’s really special because it really shows that we have a lot of guys that aren’t the first go to’s, but they can come and prove themselves. Especially in a new format like this, those are the people who are gonna shine.”

Southern Utah’s Francis Bemiy was another pass rusher that was highlighted throughout the week and upped his stock ahead of the CFL Draft. His big body (he measured in at six-foot-three and 257 pounds) already looked pro-ready upon arrival in Edmonton and when he hit the field, his consistency on every rep was at the forefront. When things wrapped up on Sunday, Ferguson named the defensive lineman one of his 3 Stars of the week. Bemiy, who was ranked No 12 on the Scouting Bureau, was also named one of Marshall’s 3 Stars after the first day of practice.

Anthony Bennett (No. 13 on the Scouting Bureau after being previously unranked) was a name that was heard amongst the week’s standouts, earning a Coaches’ Picks honourable mention on day three. The six-foot, 229-pound Regina product showed off his versatility and speed, participating in some of the linebacker drills as well. Global prospect Blessman Ta’ala from Hawaii was also a standout, displaying a ton of strength in the pass rush one-on-ones, winning a number of his reps against some of the best offensive linemen.

Tanya Henderson spent the week with the defensive lineman at the CFL Combine presented by New Era (Christian Bender/

“They all stand out in a different way,” Henderson said of the pass rusher group. “You have your super solid skill guys. But then you also have your guys who have so much untapped potential. You have your guys who are just solid teammates and you have your guys who have unbelievable attitude, like Tanner Schmekel. The poor guy didn’t get to practice at all but he was there. He was involved. He was smiling the entire time.”

Now all that’s left to do for these prospects is to be patient. There’s just over a month until the CFL Draft, where they will hope to hear their names called by one of the nine CFL teams as they get ready to kick start their pro careers.

“It would mean everything honestly,” Korte-Moore said of getting drafted. “I’ve been watching the sport since I was a kid. My grandfather (George Moore) played in the CFL and I know that he’s looking down on me and watching over me.

“My grandmother actually sent me an email the other night and told me how proud she was and how proud he would be for this moment.”

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