Late career change for CFL prospect

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 PM ET

Chris Hodgson often got the same reaction as he sat down for interviews with CFL teams this past weekend.

“Oh,” a team personnel member would say as he flipped to Hodgson’s prospect page. “You’re THAT guy.”

Hodgson represented one of the more intriguing storylines during the draft evaluation camp.

Just more than a year ago, the 26-year-old was coming to the decision that playing hockey at the University of New Brunswick was not doing it for him. Five years ago, in 2005-06, Hodgson, a native of Fredericton, N.B., played for three minor-pro hockey teams. That was after he spent four years as a centre in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, his best season in 2003-04 when he had 36 points in 57 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you’re wondering about Hodgson’s football past, he did not have one until he attended a football camp last March in Montreal.

“I have about 24 years to catch up on with all of these guys and it’s a lot of work in the film room,” said Hodgson, whose athleticism earned him a backup role on the defensive line at Saint Mary’s last season. “Going to that open combine in Montreal was a turning point for me. I went there and tested well.”

Hodgson had football in the back of his mind for several years, but was not ready to stick his toe into the water until a year ago. And he is glad he did, as he said on Sunday that he would have hated to get to the age of 30 and wonder what might have been.

Now, he is curious to see what will be. Though there was not much film on him, enough teams had an interest to get him invited to the evaluation camp. Four clubs — the B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes — interviewed him during the camp.

Already there have been big changes for Hodgson. He is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, approximately 40 pounds more than his hockey-playing weight.

Whether or not he gets drafted on May 8 will be interesting to watch. If a team picks him, it thinks Hodgson has the mental capacity to learn quickly. The largest factor will be the determination of whether his football instincts are good enough for the CFL.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs, and at times you get frustrated because you think you are doing something right and you look at film and you are not,” Hodgson said. “I hope I can find a team that is willing to put in the extra time with me. In my mind, I still feel like I am 20 and that I can make an impact on a team.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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