Thirty of the best and brightest sophomore and junior players from the Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) put their talents on display on Wednesday afternoon at the U of W’s recplex, looking to earn one of roughly 65 available spots to CanadaFootballChat’s (CFC) Prospect Game. The game will be broadcast on TSN in June of 2019.
The CFC combine included a 40 yard dash, t-test, vertical and kneeling power ball chest throw, which all took place during the morning session. The afternoon session featured position-specific drills, with one-on-ones in pads concluding the day.
Sophomore Oak Park running back Rhyland Kelly was one of the major standouts during the five hour event. He ran the fastest 40 at 4.60 and also demonstrated his versatility as a receiver and defensive back during positional drills. Standing at 6’1″ and 169 pounds, scouts appear to love his upside and could see him lining up anywhere from scatback to the secondary.
“I’d like to think I did fairly well throughout the whole tryout,” Kelly said after the event.
“There really isn’t much to it, I just went out there and tried to perform to my best abilities. And I’d like to thank my coaches from Recruit Ready for giving me some of the training which helped me today.”
Additionally, rangy St. Paul’s defensive end Zach Lytle — a grade ten who stands at 6’4″ and 185 pounds — showed his athleticism with a 4.69 in the 40, while 6’3″, 245-pound junior DE Jordan Friesen out of Dakota put up a 4.75.
Other highlights from the testing events included a vertical of over 30 for grade 11 Dakota linebacker Josh Ma. This number is quite impressive considering the fact that he’s 5’7″. But it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Ma has a background in basketball as a point guard. He also impressed during the one-on-one sessions, throwing around his 205-pound body effectively while also playing physical in coverage.
Positionally, it was hard not to notice sophomore pivot Jordan Hanslip out of Vincent Massey Winnipeg, who has received high praise from head coach Kelsey McKay on numerous occasions and has the potential to surpass Andreas Dueck and Jackson Tachinski as the top gunslinger in program history. He was looking to focus mainly on the routes he’ll be throwing in high school, such as ins, outs, hooks and gos and did so with poise and accuracy.
“I was really just looking to work on my technique and playing against the best of what Manitoba has and just competing against them,” he said.
“Coming out of this combine I’m hoping to focus on the finer details and maybe a little bit of athleticism.”
Unsurprisingly, the tallest receiver at the event, Vincent Massey’s Kaiden Bannon, also impressed. The 6’2″, 180-pounder was stellar during the positional gauntlet drill and drew the eye of a few different coaches.
A few out of province players also had great days, such as 6’4″, 250-pound offensive lineman Derek Beaubien from the Assinoboia Rockets in Saskatchewan. The former member of Team Canada was rock solid as a blocker, showing his power and upper body strength. The same could be said for Regina’s Ryker Frank, who made an amazing catch during the one-on-ones and also held his ground as a pass blocker. His 40 times were consistent as well, with both in the 4.7’s.
Not to be forgotten was grade 11 Kelvin kicker/punter Ethan Nagler, who was booming the ball all day. A converted soccer star who began playing footy when he was three years old, he’s already received plenty of interest both in Canada and the United States.
“It felt great,” Nagler said of the day as a whole.
“Canadafootballchat does so much, especially for kickers in Canada. There’s nothing else like it.”
Tryouts for the prospect game have been occurring all across the nation, with the last camp scheduled for March 27. Invites will be sent out shortly afterwards, with an expected date of anywhere between April 10-15.