Landry: Daniel Oladejo’s big combine splash

Daniel Oladejo had a goal in mind when he hit the field in Edmonton.

“Going in, I was trying to kind of make a splash,” says the 23-year-old draft hopeful.

Well, sploosh.

Oladejo met his goal and then some at the 2023 CFL Combine Presented by New Era, charting his draft stock upwards with tremendous on-field performances, turning heads and ensuring everyone there knew exactly who he was when all was said and done.

“One GM asked me how to pronounce my last name, during the one-on-ones,” the Ottawa Gee Gees grad says. “And he said he was asking because he thought I deserved that recognition and told me to keep going.”

It’s pronounced Oh-la-DAY-zho, by the way, Commissioner Ambrosie. You should know that for draft day because it is quite likely that Oladejo — not included in the top-20 prospects list released this past winter — has pushed his name into the televised portion of the proceedings of May 2.

“On the second day, a coach came up to me and told me that I was making myself some money,” chuckles Oladejo, basking in the glow of his combine showing.

“Those little things kind of confirmed to me that OK, the teams are recognizing that I’m performing well, so it was kind of motivation for me to just to keep going and keep pushing.”

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The revised format of the Combine helped Oladejo, who used the three days of practices to win over teams across the league (Jason Franson/

Oladejo’s testing scores were not what you’d consider mind-blowing, save for his 20 reps in the bench press and his third overall showing in the shuttle. His 40 time saw him down the list, 10th among receivers, 3oth overall. In the vertical he was ninth among receivers, as he was in the three-cone drill. He was eighth among receivers in the broad jump.

However, in this new, expanded combine format — with even more emphasis being placed on football skills between the stripes — Oladejo was able to show that his whole football self was greater than the sum of his testing parts.

“I pride myself in being a route runner and I had been telling teams that,” says the five-foot-10, 192-pounder. “So the opportunity to show that live, in the flesh, in person, was something that I relished. I knew the one-on-ones would be my opportunity to separate a little bit.”

He did that, being picked by’s Marshall Ferguson as one of his three stars on Day Two of practices and drills. “Daniel Oladejo showed exceptional burst and crisp route running,” said Ferguson.

While he was born in Nigeria, Oladejo’s family moved to the United States when he was a small child, settling first in Louisiana and then in the football hotbed of Katy, Texas. When he got a little older, around the age of 12, Oladejo’s parents, Michael and Ebun, moved the family (Oladejo has older siblings named Lois and David as well as a twin sister, Eunice) to Ottawa.

Daniel played his high school football there and stayed close to home when he graduated. He red-shirted for the first two years of his university football career before winning the Gee-Gees’ President’s Award for his leadership skills, in 2021. Last season, he was named a second team OUA all-star, pulling in 32 catches for 399 yards and three touchdowns.

And he separated his shoulder as well, suffering an AC joint injury. That is, in part, why the bench press showing was so important to Oladejo.

“I wanted to show that the shoulder’s completely healed,” he says, thrilled that he set a personal best in the bench at the combine. “I wanted to show the teams that OK, this this doesn’t affect me and I can contribute on specials and go out and block and things like that. So that was definitely a big deal for me.”

Oledajo said his one-on-one battles with Guelph’s Siriman Bagayogo were his favourite moments of the Combine (Christian Bender/

His route running was a big deal for everybody else.

On the second day of one-on-ones, Oladejo got what he considers one of his great personal highlights of the combine. The competition included something known as “the call-outs.” That’s where coaches get a chance to choose the receiver/defensive back match-ups they’d like to see. Oladejo had already been asked by a number of player personnel people who he’d like the challenge of taking on, and he’d singled out University of Guelph corner Siriman Bagayogo as the challenger.

When the call-out came, Oladejo asked if they’d be matching up wide or in the slot. Informed that it was his choice, Oladejo, knowing that as a corner Bagayogo spent a lot of time out wide, chose the slot.

“That’s my territory,” he says, slyly.

“I kind of knew it was a good move because I heard the ‘oohs’ behind me,” says Oladejo of a sharp cut to the inside at the outset of the route. “I caught the ball, turned around, and he was really far away so I knew there was some separation there.

“That’s probably the one that stands out the most because it was against the best DB at the draft, in my opinion, and the opinion of a lot of people that cover the draft,” he says.

It was a good day. As the 2023 combine wrapped up, Oladejo was singled out as the Day 5 Coaches’ Pick on offence.


“I set that intention the day before,” he says of the honour. “And I ended up getting it. It confirmed to me that I’m doing the right thing and I should be confident in my play.”

Daniel Oladejo should be confident in his draft fortunes rising, too, after his cannonball at the combine.

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