Turner's a burner

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:42 AM ET

In a flash, Steven Turner enhanced his Canadian Football League draft status.

Bishop’s Gaiters wide receiver blazed to a record in the 40-yard dash at the CFL draft evaluation camp on Sunday at the Varsity Centre, a sweet ending to a weekend that saw the 23-year-old Brampton native lead receivers in every testing category.

“He really helped himself,” Argonauts head coach Jim Barker said. “To run a 4.31 (in the 40-yard dash, breaking the E-camp record of 4.39 seconds, set last year by Jamall Lee), and show the kind of quickness he did, he is a talented athlete.”

For Turner, who led the CIS with an average of 20.4 yards per punt return in 2009 and returned two punts for touchdowns, the record accomplished what he had set out to do.

“I knew I was fast,” Turner said. “My plan coming in here, my first goal was to beat the 40-yard dash time. Jamall is a former teammate of mine, and we are pretty good friends, so it felt good to get that.

“It means a lot to hear that (from Barker). I had an interview with the Argos, it’s my home city. It’s nothing but smiles right now.”

How could Turner’s speed help him on draft day on May 2? Well, the group of eligible prospects is fairly deep, but there is no player who is head and shoulders above his peers. Offensive lineman John Bender, who plays at Nevada, is ranked first by the CFL’s amateur scouting bureau, but like three other players in the top 10, he did not attend the E-camp because he has another year left of college. As it is, many expect Bender to play in the National Football League.

Anything players could have done to separate themselves from the pack on the weekend was a bonus. Turner does not necessarily have the body to be a top-flight receiver in the CFL — of the 11 receivers at the E-camp, he was the smallest at 5-feet-9 and 185 pounds — but his speed and agility will not go unnoticed. On the other hand, team personnel were hoping to see 6-foot-8, 309-pound offensive lineman Joe Eppele dominate more than he did in one-on-one drills.

Concordia’s Cory Watson (No. 6) and St. Francis Xavier’s Akeem Foster (No. 9) are the top-ranked receivers, but no receiver is hands-down better than the next one.

Foster, interestingly, said Michael (Pinball) Clemons was his idol, even though Foster, at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, carries himself like he has been a receiver in the CFL for years.

“The way he went about his business on the field, I would like to have that same demeanor,” Foster, an Ajax native, said. “Just go about my business and have some fun out there.”

Argos general manager Adam Rita didn’t get a look at the prospects this weekend as he was away on a long-ago planned vacation, but Barker and the Argos coaches will meet on Monday to chart their draft course. The Argos staff will spend the next several weeks working out draft eligibles, and devise a list of, in their minds, the top 48 players.

Much better

“The group was much better than I thought they would be,” Barker said. “You have a better idea now. But we have another six weeks before the draft, so we’ll have to see what happens.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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