Sports Linebacker Tyrell Richards shows off his versatility at CFL combine

04:26  28 march  2022
04:26  28 march  2022 Source:   msn.com

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TORONTO — Tyrell Richards did nothing to diminish his 2022 CFL draft stock.

  Linebacker Tyrell Richards shows off his versatility at CFL combine © Provided by The Canadian Press

The six-foot-three 232-pound linebacker showed his versatility Sunday at Varsity Stadium, testing on the final day of the CFL combine with defensive linemen and his position group. Richards also considered working with the defensive backs before erring on the side of caution.

"I decided to make a business decision and walk out of here healthy and happy," Richards said. "I wanted to show I was versatile, I wanted to show I can run, I can blitz, I can be in space and I think I showed it.

"I definitely wish I could've won every single rep but that's the way football is. Some guys get the better of you on plays but you just have to keep moving forward."

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Much was expected of Richards, who was ranked No. 4 in the CFL Scouting Bureau's January list of the top-20 prospects for the May 3 draft. That was in spite of not playing football in 2021.

"He's a big, strong, physical guy who knows how to do it and is quite comfortable in the special-teams game which right there sets him apart, really," said Mike O'Shea, head coach of the Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "He does have a lot of versatility and I know that will be very appealing to pretty well every team.

"All of his testing numbers were very good."

Richards was just thrilled to be back on a football field.

"It felt amazing," he said. "I was trying to take as many reps as I could having been out of football for too long.

"When you don't know when your next rep will come, it had me very anxious for a long time. I didn't feel rusty, the only thing was the mental fatigue of the game but as soon as I got out there I felt energized. I felt like a kid again."

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Richards, a resident of Brampton, Ont., had a career-high 24 tackles (3.5 for a loss) and two sacks in eight games (three starts) for Syracuse University in 2020. Afterwards, Richards entered the transfer portal and had offers from other schools but couldn't make the move because he'd not accumulated enough transferable credits.

Richards considered going to a junior college before deciding to spend 2021 training and coaching at Clarkson Secondary School, his former high school. Richards had 54 tackles (9.5 for a loss) and six sacks in 31 career games at Syracuse.

On Saturday, Richards posted a 37-inch vertical jump before doing 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press. On Sunday, he covered the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds and shuttle in 4.25 seconds.

"I definitely felt like having that whole year off and not having the tape I just wanted to come here and show I'm still that player," Richards said.

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It was a busy final day for the Canadian and Global participants, who also performed the broad jump, short shuttle and three-cone drills after completing the bench press and vertical jump. The CFL will also hold its Global draft May 3.

Eight of the top-10 CFL draft prospects attended the combine. The lone absentees were Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa (No. 1) and Coastal Carolina defensive back Enock Makonzo (No. 3).

Waterloo Warriors defensive back Tyrell Ford, the ninth-ranked draft prospect, posted the best 40-yard dash time (4.42 seconds). That was quicker than the 4.45 seconds Ford recorded recently at the University of Buffalo pro day.

"I think I could've run better," he said. "In practice I ran 4.39 but the conditions (Sunday) were a little colder and I didn't get a good warmup.

"But I thought I did well in the one-on-ones, I didn't get beat deep. I think they caught two hooks on me but at the end of the day giving up two hooks for like a combined eight yards is something you can kind of live with as a defensive back."

Ford's' twin brother, Tre (No. 6 draft prospect), also participated. While Tre Ford, Waterloo's quarterback, didn't run the 40, the '21 Hec Crighton Trophy winner looked very good in passing drills despite having little time with combine receivers.

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"That's definitely a little tough because people come out of their breaks at different speeds and run their routes differently," he said. "I just wanted to show all the scouts I could make all the throws and stretch the ball downfield.

"Once I get out on the field and see a guy running a 15-yard out, I just throw it and try to hit the 15-yard out."

Global defensive linemen Noke Tago and Karlis Brauns also both tested well over the weekend. They were 1-2 in the bench press with 30 and 29 reps, respectively. On Sunday, the six-foot-four 270-pound Brauns ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash.

The Latvian is a physical specimen, with between 12 and 13 per cent body fat. He also sports pink hair.

"When you talk about defensive linemen, they have to be a little crazy and be bullies," Brauns said. "That's kind of the main thing I wanted to say.

"I'm not going to be low-key, I'm not going to take breaks. I'm going to be crazy every time."

Brauns said while he enjoyed participating in the combine, he would've liked more than just three reps in the one-on-one drills.

"I feel I won two of them," he said. "But I would've liked more."

Ditto for Tago, a burly six-foot-one 297-pound Samoan who also lined up just three times.

"I would've loved to go against some of the national players," said Tago. "I feel like I can compete at that level but you've just got to be patient and stay ready because you never know when your number will be called."

The one-on-one drills provided Tago, who played collegiately at Oregon State, with his first experience of lining up a yard off the ball.

"I didn't think it was a huge deal until (Sunday)," he said. "Going through those three reps, all I could think about was, 'What can I do to be a lot quicker off that one yard?'

"It was a huge adjustment. I'm fast off the ball but my hands aren't there yet. That's something I can definitely improve on."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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