Taking their game to the next level

Mustangs Dolezel and McAuley invited to CFL combine

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustang Football

Joyce Wang

GETTING READY TO LAY A LICK. Western defensive tackle Tom Dolezel joined other standouts at the annual CFL evaluation camp last month. Teammate Randy McAuley was also invited but declined the invitation to compete for Western’s track and field team.

Two Mustangs were invited to last month’s CFL evaluation camp at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre. The camp, which has assessed the league’s top prospects since 2001, requested Western running back Randy McAuley and defensive lineman Tom Dolezel.

While Dolezel headed to Toronto, McAuley declined the invite, opting to run for Western at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport track and field championships.

Though he was flattered by the invite, McAuley’s decision was easy; he won gold in the 4x400-metre relay.

“I have obviously invested a lot of my life into football, and especially a lot of my time here at Western,” he said. “But in the end, the decision was a no-brainer. It ended up being a good gamble.”

McAuley enlisted the help of close friend, former Mustang and current Toronto Argonaut receiver Christian Heffernan, who also declined a combine invite a few years ago.

Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats and current Western head coach Greg Marshall says passing up the opportunity shouldn’t handicap McAuley.

“I don’t think it’ll hurt his chances,” Marshall said. “The CFL teams know what he can do. [They] will give him a good look anyways.”

Dolezel talked about the pressure of representing Western at the combine, since former Mustangs like Saskatchewan receiver Andy Fantuz and Argos cornerback Leron Mitchell have participated in the past.

“I do feel that I need to meet some sort of expectations [to] represent the school,” Dolezel said.

McAuley also experienced added pressure, given the stakes.

“I’m not one who is interested in underachieving at the next level, especially after giving up the opportunity that some might call the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.

In preparation, Dolezel added extra training to his regular football program.

“I threw in a few more days of running per week so I could get my endurance and speed up,” he said. “I made sure I was eating right.”

Unfortunately, Dolezel pulled his hamstring during the 40-yard dash.

“I trained so hard, and to not be able to finish the day and show them what I can do just ate me up inside,” Dolezel said. “I don’t know how it affected my draft status.”

Dolezel still participated in some drills. He scored 28 on the Wonderlic test. The lineman also benched 23 reps of 225 pounds and had a broad jump of 8.3 feet.

Marshall believes Dolezel’s game translates well to the pro level.

“I definitely think he’s got the attitude, the mindset and the physical strength to play professionally,” he said.

The camp isn’t just about showcasing physical attributes, Marshall added.

“Part of [the] whole evaluation process that the CFL teams use is about getting to know the players,” he said. “The more tape you look at, the more people you interview, the more times you see them, the better you’re going to be.”

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