The 2011 CFL Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok will host more than 50 of Canada’s top football prospects eligible for the upcoming draft. The three-day event from March 4-6 is an opportunity for general managers, coaches and scouts to test, interview and evaluate prospects who they may select in the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft on Sunday, May 8.
The Huskies have three players attending the camp: Linebacker Peter Thiel, Receiver Braeden George and Receiver Jade Etienne.
Although the list of players was announced last week the Huskies had a suspicion about who would be going.
George, who got a taste of the national spotlight in the East-West All-Star game last season, has been preparing for the camp six days a week. “Im in the weight room six times a week, going to our sprint and agility sessions twice a week and running routes at the soccer centre twice a week,” he said. “All that on top of our scheduled morning runs as a team two days a week. It is an intense training regiment but worth it in the end”
Etienne and Thiel have similar schedules. “I’ve been training pretty hard actually,” Etienne said. “There are a couple days during a regular week where I have three separate training sessions to do. With school, it gets pretty exhausting!”
Thiel noted the guys have been mixing it up a bit compared to their normal off-season program. “I have been working out as hard as I have in past, but with more of an emphasis on speed and agility, opposed to the normal January and February workouts aimed at size and strength,” he said. “Lifting sessions have been more focused on muscular endurance instead of sheer strength.”
A number of Huskies have participated in the E-camp in the past. Etienne has been listening to advice from some of them. “I’ve gotten some tips here and there from guys like Paddy Neufeld and Ivan Brown about little things… but when it comes down to it, I feel as if all I need to do is get a scout to like me and I’ll have a shot,” he said.
“If someone thinks I can fit well into their system, then perfect. Otherwise its a long shot. For me, I need to be fast. I’m slowly gaining weight and size, but the main priority is running a fast 40 and a quick shuttle. There’s a lot of speed in today’s game and I really need to keep up if I want a chance of playing in the CFL.”
The coaches and scouts at the camp will be looking for different things from players, depending on their positions. “I have been told that the coaches are looking for athletes who can play football and are able to fit into a role on a pro team,” said Thiel, who has been practicing long-snapping all winter. “The ability to play specials is also one of the things that the coaches will be looking for.”
George hopes his work habits will pay off. “Coaches are looking for guys that have a good work ethic and come from good family backgrounds,” he said. “They want to make sure they draft someone who can handle the next level mentality.”
We asked each of the three players attending the E-camp if they were nervous.
“I am very excited, its an experience that few guys get a chance to have so I am going to make the most of it,” said George. “I’d say I’m more anxious than nervous, I just want to get out there and show them what I can do.”
Etienne said “I’m definitely excited, but also very nervous and anxious. I’m the type where I’ll still get a little nervous for team testing. This is definitely a lot more important because the scouts and coaches that will be at the E-camp are basing everything on how I test, where as my coaches here have a pretty good idea about how in shape I am.”
“Hopefully I’ll go in there and test well and run good routes, so the stress of it all is out of my mind,” he added. “I feel as if I need to start focusing on school now a lot more than I have been.”
Thiel, who along with George tested at the Team Canada Senior Football tryouts last weekend, is looking forward to showing what he can do in testing. “I am pretty excited for the camp, opportunities such as this only come around a few times in our lives and I am looking to make the most of it.”
All three players mentioned the support from their families, coaches and Huskie players and Alumni. “I’m very thankful for all my teammates and coaches for supporting me through all this,” said Etienne. “It definitely came as a surprise seeing as how I wasn’t sure how much playing time I was going to get coming into this past season. I just need to focus on myself, perform at the best of my abilities and not compare myself to other receivers. All and all I think it will be a great experience.”