Volume 92, Issue 85
Wednesday, March 10, 1999
CFL eyes set on pair of Mustangs
By Paul Leeking
One weekend could make or break the dreams of professional football for a couple of Mustang gridiron athletes.
Wide receiver Dan Disley and six-foot-six, 295 pound offensive tackle Mike Abou-Mechrek have been selected to participate in the annual Canadian Football League Combine on March 25-26 in Winnipeg.
Disley and Abou-Mechrek will be competing against 40 to 50 other Canadian college and university football players intent on making an impression on scouts and coaches with all eight CFL teams.
The two-day combine incorporates sessions designed to test players' speed, strength and agility in such events as the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical leap and bench press, said Marcel Desjardins, director of player personal for the CFL. Desjardins added the event allows players to compete directly against each other, exposing their talents to the numerous CFL scouts in attendance.
"Basically, the top draft eligible players in the country are pulled there," said Western football head coach Larry Haylor. "Canadian kids playing at [United States] schools will also be there but I think both of our players will do well."
Only six players from Ontario universities have been invited to participate, Desjardins said. The inclusion of many Canadian athletes on American scholarships serves only to strengthen the depth of the athletes attending, he said.
Both Disley and Abou-Mechrek were optimistic about their chances.
"Looking at results from previous years a lot of players did well and were able to improve their draft position," said Disley, who holds the Mustang record for receiving yards in a season. "I am running a lot more and tailoring my training to the tests."
On the other hand, Abou-Mechrek, a native of Toronto, was uncertain exactly what athletic talents scouts would be looking for.
"I don't know what to expect. I've never done anything like this before," Abou-Mechrek said.
The CFL has a roster quota which stipulates each team must dress a minimum of 16 Canadian players of the 36 man game roster. The Combine has historically been a major event for CFL scouts because it permits them to draft quality Canadian prospects in a controlled environment.
"Sometimes seeing a player on film can be deceiving," said Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive coordinator Greg Marshall. "The quality can be bad and therefore seeing the players in person can either inflate or deflate their stock. Our organization goes there to try and identify the best players in each group."
Marshall added he had the opportunity to see both Abou-Mechrek and Disley in action at the national semifinal Churchill Bowl in Saskatoon. He said he will take a second look at them during the Combine and closely scrutinize their raw athletic ability.
Last year, defensive lineman Roger Dunbrack and receiver Ryan Hazzard represented Western at the combine. Dunbrack was later drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the second round of the CFL draft.
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