Six Bison football players will be looking to make an impact at the CFL Western Regional Combine Thursday.
Offensive lineman Anthony Daley, defensive backs Jayden McKoy and Tyler Fong, linebackers Houston Rennie and James Mau, and wide receiver Stephen Ugbah were all selected to participate.
The top performers at the regional combine will be invited to the National CFL Combine March 24-25 in Winnipeg.
Manitoba sent seven players to the regional combine in 2017 and 2016, and six in 2015.
“Every year Manitoba has a lot of guys going and to be selected as a part of that group this year is definitely pretty cool and it’s going to be a good time,” McKoy said.
The Bison cohort has been working out on the turf fields at the University of Manitoba, preparing for the drills at the combine such as the 40-yard dash and the broad jump.
“I feel good now that we’ve been able to run through some of the exact drill that we’re going to be doing,” McKoy said. “It’s good to get some of the muscle memory and get your mind into exactly what you’re going to be doing so you’re not going out there blind.”
Daley – having played his final season in brown and gold – said he is aiming to be as prepared as possible, but will focus on his personal results.
“My main focus is to just be the best I can do for myself,” he said. “You can compare yourself to other people but I’m trying to compare myself to years previous.”
Daley was last evaluated three years ago, and he said he is excited to see how he has improved.
“Things have changed. I’ve grown up,” he said. “I’ve matured in my mind and my body so I’m curious to see how I’m able to put it all together now.”
For Fong, the opportunity highlights a long, arduous journey. In May of 2015 he suffered a broken rib, punctured lung, and a broken toe after plummeting 156 feet down a waterfall. Then in 2016 he suffered season-ending an ACL injury
“Being able to overcome both those things is still a huge accomplishment for me,” he said. “All the work is getting noticed, and finally getting an opportunity where I can go out and prove myself, and hopefully enough to get noticed and be picked up by a CFL team.”
March 22-25 will be CFL Week in Winnipeg, and Fong said he will be looking to do some volunteering, while McKoy said he might take some time to relax.
“We’ve been going pretty hard for this combine so after that we’ll probably chill and get some rest,” McKoy said.
With all the scouts watching the combine, there is potential for some of these Bisons to get drafted by a CFL team down the line.
“It would be a life-changing experience,” Daley said.
“It could be something that could provide a living for you for a portion of your life, some people, their whole life. To do that as a job would be amazing.”