Chambers relishing CFL opportunity

(File photo by Nick Lachance).

It is not uncommon for people to travel during the summer months.

It is uncommon for them to make the kind of journey that ex-Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers has.

On Aug. 27 the Markham native played his sixth professional game, but it was his first in front of his hometown Toronto crowd, winding up what had been a very eventful summer.

“I’m expecting about 150-200 people [at the game],” said Chambers prior to the game. “It’s cool that everyone is coming out to show their support.”
Chambers CFL journey began back in March at the CFL evaluation camp. There he dazzled scouts with his speed at the CFL combine, running the fastest 40-yard dash time.

But Chambers acknowledged that  a professional game requires a lot more than quick feet.

“In terms of being fast, it’s not enough. You are playing with a lot of guys who can post (4.42) 40 yard dash times. You need more to be successful.”

On May 3 the 6”3 receiver was selected by the Edmonton Eskimos with the sixth overall pick in the CFL draft.

Chambers noted that despite playing the same game as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) there were significant differences.

“In terms of the learning curve, it’s a lot steeper. The playbook is a lot bigger. The attention to detail is just on a whole other level.”

Like most young players, Chambers knew he would need to make adjustments.

“Sometimes, it’s about slowing down. Like [teammate] Adarius Bowman told me, ‘slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

Help from veterans in the receiver core made Chambers transition into the league go much smoother.

In his busy off-season Chambers also attended a tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Chambers admitted that he would someday like to play at the NFL level, but that it was not the right time to make that kind of a step in his career.

“Right now, my focus is helping my team win games.”

So far his 12 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown, has aided the Eskimos to a 5-3 record. For his personal goals this season, Chambers expects to continue to learn and develop a better understanding of the offence, while improving himself as a player. As for his team, the goal is simple: “You want to reach the pinnacle; you want to be playing for the Grey Cup.”

Of course a trip to the Grey Cup would mean another trip home for Chambers, as the 100th Grey Cup also takes place in Toronto this year. For the first time since he can remember Chambers won’t be returning to school in the fall. Despite the excitement of professional football, the receiver admitted there are some things he will miss about Laurier.

“Homecoming, my friends, less responsibility, [Laurier] was fun. But the team was entering a new transition and I was on the backend. I felt it was time for me to move on and I feel like it was the right decision.”

Though he will not be coming back this semester, Chambers says he learned important lessons from his time at Laurier.

“In terms of playing, the plays at Laurier were similar to the plays in Edmonton, with different terminology, he said. “Overall though, Coach Jefferies always held me accountable and helped me mature as a man.”

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