April 5, 2024

Hall: Demski weighs Kevin Mital comparisons

Peter Power/CFL.ca, The Canadian Press

Kevin Mital touched down in Winnipeg last month with a strategic game plan for the CFL Combine presented by New Era.

The six-foot-one, 229-pound wide receiver wanted to prove his injured ankle is no longer an issue. The Laval product wanted to showcase his athleticism and prowess at catching tough passes under duress.

Perhaps most importantly, he wanted to demonstrate that he is still the same guy who won the 2022 Vanier Cup MVP — the same guy who became the first receiver since Andy Fantuz (2005) to capture the Hec Crighton Trophy.

Chalk it up as mission accomplished, across the board, for the brazen ball hawk from Saint-Hubert, QC.

“I think I did a great job at the combine putting myself in a better position,” Mital said Thursday. “Before the combine, I think about a week before, people said I would go in the second round, the mid-second round.

“And now, from what I’ve heard, I think I’m probably a top-five in the first round. So, I’m pretty happy with that.”

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Despite all the mock drafts — with apologies to CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson and all the other three-down clairvoyants — there’s no way to predict with certainty what will happen come April 30 at the 2024 CFL Draft.

But at the combine, Mital made a statement with his tantalizing speed, tenacity, and sure hands, leaving some onlookers to compare the brazen 24-year-old playmaker to standout Winnipeg receiver Nic Demski.

Outrageous? Perhaps.

Premature? Absolutely.

But word of Mital’s prowess reached Demski, even though he was in Chicago during the combine to coach at a seven-on-seven pylon football tournament.

“I was watching,” Demski said. “I was paying attention. I checked out his combine. I saw his 40-yard-dash. I saw his bench press. I saw some of his reps in the one-on-ones. I definitely respect his game, for sure.”

Mital’s weight shocked some at the combine — he’s working at shedding some pounds before training camp — but he still put up impressive numbers.

He ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. He recorded 20 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press and he dazzled when he slipped on the pads.


“He is a physical receiver,” Demski said. “But he also has the ability to make guys miss when they’re trying to cover him and also track the deep ball.

“I did see one of his seven-on-sevens. He caught a big corner route, so maybe that’s where the comparisons lie. He definitely has the potential to be a big-play type of guy in this league.”

In 2022, Mital made big play after big play for Laval — forcing the opposition to double team him or face the consequences.

In the 2022 Vanier Cup, Mital registered eight receptions for 142 yards. He also threw the winning touchdown pass on a direct snap to lead Laval to a 30-24 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies.

“Like I said to a couple of teams, I’m not the best receiver in terms of running routes,” Mital said. “But I’m a playmaker. Every time I touch the ball, something positive happens.”

The 2023 season proved anything but positive for Mital. He missed the first game due to a suspension for his involvement in a December 2021 bar fight.

Last September, Mital pleaded guilty to one charge of assault in connection with the altercation.The judge granted him an unconditional discharge, which prevents him from having a criminal record.

The subject came up more than once in Winnipeg, and Mital resisted the temptation to shy away.

“I knew coming into the combine that it was something I needed to talk to all the teams about,” he said. “It’s not something that I’m trying to hide.

“Now it’s behind me, and I learned from my mistake.”

Mital impressed the talent evaluators with his size, speed and physicality at the CFL Combine (Andrew Mahon/CFL.ca)

The troubles continued for Mital in the second game of the 2023 season when he suffered a high ankle sprain.

“I missed two weeks and it’s a six-to-eight-week injury,” Mital said. “I tried to come back because I wanted to help my team. It didn’t go well. I was limited, almost on one leg.”

Clearly hobbled, Mital caught 22 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns in his final season at Laval.

“The combine shows to me that I’m back now to 100 per cent,” he said. “I don’t feel any pain after the combine. I feel great.”

CFL rookie camp opens May 8, and Mital is sure to be one of the top prospects no matter where he goes in the draft.

Now entering his eighth CFL season, Demski advises Mital to grind through the inevitable ups and downs that come with levelling up to university football to the pros.

“At the end of the day, it’s just about being consistent with your process — showing up on time, taking the coaching and making sure he knows his playbook,” said the 30-year-old who played his college ball at the University of Manitoba. “If he does all that, then the sky’s the limit once he gets his opportunity.

“Because that’s really what this league is all about. There’s a lot of guys who can play football, but it’s all about capitalizing on your opportunity. So you stick to your process and make sure you’re ready when your time does come.”

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