March 13, 2024

Ferguson: 5 intriguing NCAA prospects at the CFL Combine

Photo courtesy of Colgate Athletics

Each year the CFL Draft takes on its own unique shape. Positional group strengths and weaknesses are the basis from which everything else seems to grow out around, but one of my personal favourite tendencies is the homecoming for many NCAA athletes.

The dichotomy of U SPORTS and NCAA helmets really doesn’t happen all that often, whatever your opinion is of the varying leagues and levels that players develop within, the CFL Combine presented by New Era and its new multi day format allow for everyone – and their unique helmets signifying a wide swatch of journeys to get there – to get on the field at the same time, with the same coaching and battle to show why they can be an impactful CFL player.

With that in mind, here are five of the NCAA prospects making their way to Winnipeg next week that intrigue me, as I’m sure they do CFL decision makers.

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Baylor Bears DL Justin Sambu

(Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics)

The CFL has always been fortunate to have impact National pass rushers. Mathieu Betts setting the National sack record in 2023 for the BC Lions before jumping to the NFL only cemented that players with top end talent can not just fill a ratio role but change the way offences scheme.

Sambu is a Calgary native who – like many National NCAA attendees – bounced around the American collegiate ranks before finishing at Baylor. Over four season with Maine, Sambu competed in 28 games racking up 59 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.

All of those sacks came in 2022 which led him to a Baylor transfer not unlike 2024 Grey Cup champion and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Lwal Uguak who made the jump from UCONN to TCU for his final season where he saw limited action as Sambu did at Baylor.

Washington State Cougars OL Christy Nkanu

(Photo courtesy of Washington State Athletics)

While the skill position players continue to raise their game with each passing CFL Combine, there is always a place for the big bodied NCAA seasoned pass protector to shine in the CFL Combine and subsequent draft. Nkanu has a chance to be that guy in 2024 as the only NCAA offensive lineman scheduled to make the trip to Winnipeg.

Colgate Raiders DB Arthur Hamlin

(Photo courtesy of Colgate Athletics)

The rare NCAA prospect to stay put for all his collegiate career, Hamlin’s production won’t wow you but I expect his build and ball skills in person will turn some heads. A career high 32 total tackles last season paired with his first career interception should help get the ball rolling as his interviews to dive deeper into the man behind the Colgate ‘C’ from Ottawa.

Maine Black Bears LB Terrence Ganyi

While San Diego State’s Daniel Okpoko will get much of the attention for NCAA prospects at the CFL Combine with his impressive resume and story (go read Chris O’Leary’s profile here on, Ganyi could be your prototypical grinder who uses his motor and work ethic to impress scouts at the national showcase. If nothing else, I have to believe he’ll earn a mid-round pick as a specialist with the chance to grow into a larger role in his CFL future. That all begins next week in Winnipeg.

Garden City Broncbusters REC Ajou Ajou

(Photo courtesy of South Florida Athletics)

There is no player in this draft and national combine with more buzz than Ajou who began his playing career with the Clemson Tigers for two seasons before heading to South Florida for a year and landing in the Jayhawk Conference made famous by Netflix ‘Last Chance U’.

The six-foot-three, 210-pound wide receiver was listed as a redshirt sophomore in 2023 and had 17 catches, 186 yards and two touchdowns through seven games. He was born in Calgary, raised in Brooks, Alta., and played part of his high school football career in Edmonton before moving south to get more looks.

Will Ajou thrive and remind everyone why he made the grade at Clemson for a couple seasons, or flame out through interviews when pressured on why he moved from a major division one program backwards over four years? We won’t know until the combine process wraps up, but rest assured he will be much discussed between now and April 30 when his name will get called.

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