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Five to watch at the Ontario regional combine

The road to the CFL Combine presented by New Era begins on Thursday in Toronto at the Ontario regional combine.

Just a handful of the 38 players that take part in Thursday’s workouts at the University of Toronto will get the invite to the national combine, which also runs in Toronto. Regional invitees from the Ontario, eastern and western regional combines will join 39 of the nation’s top U Sports/NCAA/junior players, to assemble with 37 global players at the U of T campus from March 26 to 28 for the national combine.

Since its inception in 2013, regional combines have proven to be a pipeline for under the radar Canadian prospects to find their way to the CFL. As we pointed out in an article last week, 56 of the 74 players invited from regional combines have gone on to be drafted and 50 of those 74 players are currently on a CFL roster.

Edmonton Eskimos’ safety Jermaine Gabriel, BC Lions’ receiver Shaq Johnson and Montreal Alouettes’ linebacker DJ Lalama are just a few regional combine success stories. Last year, Concordia d-lineman Michael Sanelli (pictured above) went from the Ontario regional combine to the national and was chosen in the fifth-round by Montreal in the 2019 draft.

As the results begin to roll in at the combine on Thursday, here are five names to keep an eye out for, via’s Marshall Ferguson, one of the nation’s top observers of talent at the U Sports level and most knowledgeable minds on the Canadian draft.

» O’Leary: Tachinski ready for opportunity at regional combine» Rosters set: CFL reveals 2020 regional combine participants
» Second wave of global players invited to CFL combine

Xander Tachinski, WR, McMaster

The Winnipegger that watched his hometown Bombers (a team that he spent parts of two training camps with as a territorial junior player) win the Grey Cup last year while playing for McMaster in Hamilton is relishing the chance to launch his CFL career this week. The six-foot-three, 217-pound receiver made a leap with the Marauders this past year, his second with the program after four years of junior ball with the Winnipeg Rifles. With 34 catches for 411 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 and a year of eligibility left at McMaster, a team could see a lot of upside in Tachinski if he performs well at the regional combine.

Kian Schaffer-Baker, Rec, Guelph

A long (six-foot-four, 200 pounds) receiver that has consistently produced through four seasons at Guelph, Schaffer-Baker will look to make an impression in front of the eyes and stopwatches of CFL personnel from across the country. With 95 catches and 1,544 yards with eight touchdowns to his name through four years at Guelph, Schaffer-Baker has been productive from the day he arrived on campus. He eyes a career in the CFL with one of its all-time greats as a role model. As part of his training, Schaffer-Baker has worked with former Argo and 2012 MOP Chad Owens.

Daniel Metcalfe, LB, Windsor

After four years with the Lancers, it’s clear that all that this six-foot, 205-pound linebacker wants to do is hit people. In Season 4, he led the OUA in tackles (60.5) for the second time in his career and threw in two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery to round out his stat line. Through 32 career games, Metcalfe has 249 tackles, seven forced fumbles with three recoveries and three interceptions. He’ll be a player that scouts and personnel will be eager to see.

Will Amoah, DB, Wilfrid Laurier

Before he was an OUA all-star, a first-team All-Canadian and Laurier’s defensive player of the year in 2018, Amoah got his start in one of the most talented front yard pickup games in the country. Amoah learned the game from his friends, the Onyekas. That name should ring a bell with Canadian football fans. It was Godfrey Onyeka (currently with the Edmonton Eskimos) that introduced Amoah to the game, playing in the Onyeka family yard in Brampton, Ont. Joining them was little brother Kene Onyeka (now with the REDBLACKS) and cousins Kosi (a DB at Guelph) and Nakas (a linebacker with the Argos). After posting five interceptions in 2018, the five-foot-11, 168-pound Amoah had a team-high two interceptions in 2019 and his four knockdowns were second-best on the team.

Troy Curtis, OL, Waterloo

The six-foot-four, 325-pound o-lineman has put in the work over the last four years with his school and saw it pay off in his third year with the team in 2018, when the Warriors made it to the OUA playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Dedicated to opening up holes for the Warriors’ run game (along with protecting QB Tre Ford), Curtis has seen the results that hard work can bring. He’ll take that mentality to Toronto this week and will hope to show a team that he can protect and open up lanes in the CFL the same way he has at the U Sports level. When Curtis isn’t playing the game, he’s teaching it. He’s worked as an offensive line coach with Waterloo Region Minor Football for the last two years.


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