It’s that time of the year again.
The CFL combine is here and this year three Hawks will be competing to get drafted.
Defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng, linebacker Nakas Onyeka and defensive lineman Jalen Price will be representing Laurier at the national event. It’s no surprise to see three Hawks being touted as potential future CFL stars, as Laurier had a phenomenal season which was capped off with a Yates Cup victory over their rival Western Mustangs.
Head coach of the Hawks, Michael Faulds, spoke about what makes the Laurier athletes so special.
“They are all battle tested and they have all gone through a lot of adversity. In their rookie year, the team went 1-7. Nakas is an undersized linebacker, so his whole life he’s been told he’s too small. Kwaku was a 210 lbs defensive end in 2013. Now he’s 260 lbs with the same speed. Jalen has been told he’s too big his whole life, so he’s had to lose a lot of weight,” he said.
Faulds especially pointed what Onyeka has had to go through to be in this position today.
“Nakas wasn’t a highly sought after recruit. The first thing I noticed about him was his tenacity and energy. He brings a lot of excitement to any football team. He’s one of those guys that just want to get after it and compete. He had to work his way into better shape and learn the system. But once he learned the system, there was no turning back,” he added.
Boateng, Onyeka and Price defeated adversity, but more importantly, they exceeded all the expectations that were attached to them. Although the combine naturally turns everyone’s attention towards the physical aspect of football, the mental strength of the players is equally important for teams.
Faulds mentioned that people often forget about the interviews done during the combine that can also help or hurt a player’s draft value.
“There’s one day where they’re just doing interviews with all the teams. The teams will get a feel for the players mentally and whether they’ll fit the culture of their team. Overall, I think all three guys will excel and all of them have teams that have asked about them and are keen about them.”
The combine is important for players and teams. The players need to do their best to impress teams, while the teams need to make sure they know everything there is to know about the players.
However, every year there are prospects that put up great combine numbers, but don’t reach their potential on the field.
Faulds stated the importance of not putting too much stock into a player’s combine results.
“Within every team, there’s certain guys that are better in the weight room, but on the field, it doesn’t translate. Then you have some guys that aren’t necessarily the best in the weight room, but on the field, they are just unstoppable. I think it’s important for the to teams watch the film. We’ve had a handful of CFL scouts at our games this year so our guys have been scouted up close,” he concluded.