Fourteen football players off to CFL combines

Four years ago, the Carleton Ravens football program was revived and signed its first recruiting class—now 14 members of that class will be attending national and regional Canadian Football League (CFL) combines.

Carleton is only second to the University of Calgary Dinos, who are sending 18 to the combines.

“Training has been going well,” said Ravens wide receiver Nate Behar. “We’ve got a great group of guys going which makes it a lot more fun for sure.”

Before the national combine, the CFL will host three regional combines where a select few will be offered the chance to workout at the national combine. The CFL’s combine for the Eastern region will take place on Mar. 10 in Montreal, Que.

Scouts and CFL organizations will see 10 Ravens players, including defensive back Dsean Thelwell and linebacker Leon Cenerini, in Montreal looking to book tickets to the national combine through strong performances.

The national combine will take place from March 23-25 in Regina, Sask. Behar, along with defensive back Tunde Adeleke, offensive lineman Kwabena Asare, and defensive back Nathaniel Hamlin will all head out west.

Instead of looking to peak physically in late August with the start of the university season, players attending combines will accelerate their training programs to peak in March. This means players selected to the combines must begin their training regimes a lot earlier than the usual starting point of early January, according to Behar.

“Personally I’ve been doing a lot more track and field stuff, I’ve been with the track club for a couple of months now,” he said. “Also we’re doing just sessions working on the cone drills.”

Players will be put through a series of drills, each meant to demonstrate their physical abilities and football abilities. During the weekend players will also undergo physical measurements. For receivers like Behar, cone drills and the 40-yard dash are seen as a crucial part of the evaluation for scouts.

“Playing receiver, [the 40-yard dash] ends up taking on a whole life of its own sadly, it becomes real important to people, which kind of sucks because it’s silly when you think about it,” Behar said.

The combine is more than just a chance for scouts and team personnel to evaluate university players physically—the three-day event will also include meetings between individual players and teams.

“It is going to be fun,” Behar said. “I’m pretty excited to try and knock some interviews out of the park, but it is going to be cool just to experience it, one my big things going through this whole process is that you got to enjoy it, there is literally only one chance, there is only one time to experience this and that’s now.”

Back in September 2016, the CFL Scouting Bureau released a list of the Top 20 eligible prospects for the 2017 CFL Draft. Behar was ranked eight, while Asare was number 19 on the list.

In an updated list released in December 2016, Behar dropped to 12, while Asare was unranked.

The list will be updated once more in April ahead of the draft on May 7.

Behar said his draft position won’t matter in the future, but described himself as a competitive person and expects to be a high draft choice.

“I will be extremely disappointed with myself if I don’t perform well enough in the combine or interviews and I am not taken as the first receiver—that’s my whole big thing—nothing against those [other receivers] I know them well, but you’re not really a competitor if you don’t want to be first at anything,” Behar said. “I want to be the first receiver off the board and usually at least in the CFL end up being a first round pick.”

“If I’m the fifth receiver and taken in the fourth round I am not going to cry if it doesn’t happen, its just one of those things,” he said.

– File photo