Pencer is a mountain of a prospect

Jason Capicciotti (left) had the unlucky task of going up against Tyson Pencer during one-on-one...

Jason Capicciotti (left) had the unlucky task of going up against Tyson Pencer during one-on-one drills yesterday. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 PM ET

TORONTO - There has been much to ponder for Tyson Pencer, a lot to absorb and plenty of speculation swirling around for the past few years.

Finally, and hopefully, his road to pro football appears to be in front of him with very little road blocks to prevent Pencer from reaching his potential.

The football sky is metaphorically the limit for this behemoth left tackle, who turned just enough heads at this weekend’s CFL evaluation that there are some who believe this native of B.C. may go first overall in the May 3 draft.

Until the actual draft unfolds, virtually any prospect will be rumoured, any team capable of moving up by offering Saskatchewan, which holds the first overall pick, a package that would compel the Roughriders to engineer a deal.

“When I look at my career, it’s only been the last couple of years where I’ve put size and athleticism together as an offensive tackle,’’ the gentle giant said on Sunday, when the CFL’s three-day e-camp wrapped up at U of T’s indoor bubble in downtown Toronto.

While he recently turned 23, Pencer has probably aged a few years, the byproduct of having to adapt to circumstances that were out of his control.

When he decided to play for Washington State, a lot was expected, but Pencer’s indoctrination to big-time college football was aborted when the NCAA’s arcane academic clearing house refused to acknowledge one of Pencer’s grades from Canada, an unexpected impediment that has derailed many hoop dreams.

For Pencer, it would serve as a harbinger of things to come as he ultimately was forced to leave the Huskies program and return home in the wake of a shoulder injury.

Physically, it’s hard not to notice Pencer, who is a 6-foot-8, 330-pound specimen with quickness, qualities scouts on either side of the border covet.

When he arrived in Toronto, Pencer knew questions about his stint at Washington State would get raised, an issue that got addressed when he met with six of the eight teams.

“That was the big question,’’ the big man confided. “I figured it was coming, but I was truthful.

“Basically, all I could do was to tell them the truth.”

In a nutshell, Pencer decided to follow his conscious when he decided to return to Delta.

“It wasn’t a decision I made overnight,’’ he said. “At that time, I felt it was the best decision for me to come home.”

When he returned, Pencer decided to focus on training and football with the goal of making an impression at the CFL’s camp.

For a brief time, Pencer entertained a handful of offers from NCAA Division I programs.

“I found it a struggle between football and school,’’ he acknowledged. “I talked to a lot of athletes and they agreed that it was a big struggle. That was part of my overall decision.”

The decision that has now proved impactful was to reach out to a program known as Game Ready, which provides guidance.

CFL names such as Will Loftus, Davis Sanchez and Geroy Simon are associated with the youth program and serve as mentors.

Pencer, for one, is grateful for the exposure and experience and is now keen on making a mark at the pro level.

One of the adjustments he has to make is the one yard that separates defensive linemen from their offensive counterparts.

“As much as you believe what people tell you, until you do it that’s when you understand it better,’’ said Pencer, who got his first taste during Sunday’s one-on-one session.

“There’s a big difference.”

Pencer’s road began in Surrey, B.C., where he grew up.

The family would move to Delta, B.C., where Pencer began to play football at age five.

Pencer would line up at skilled positions such as running backs and then began to gain notoriety when he grew.

He vividly recalls how he went from a 250-pound lineman in his first year at Washington State to his current weight of 330 pounds.

“I basically ate whatever,’’ he said. “Being in the gym, eating proteins, I just got stronger, but I maintained my quickness.”

And now that he’s committed himself to the pigskin, Pencer pines to play pro football.

HIP AILMENT KEEPS HEENAN OUT OF DRILLS

A hip ailment prevented Ben Heenan from taking part in the one-on-one portion of the CFL’s evaluation camp on Sunday.

What impact it will have on the highly touted prospect is open to debate given how little forthcoming CFL teams are when it’s their business to take care of their own needs.

The University of Saskatchewan product entered the three-day e-camp as the No. 1 ranked prospect, according to the league’s scouting bureau.

Of the eight offensive linemen who ran the 40-yard drill, Heenan placed fourth with a time of 5.28 seconds. Tyson Pencer, a 6-foot-8 physical specimen, ran the quickest time at 5.19.

Heenan has drawn plenty of attention because of his strength.

In the case of Laurier wide receiver Shamawd Chambers, it was his speed, a 4.42 in the 40, that confirmed his status as one of the top prospects for the May 3 draft.

Entering the three-day e-camp, Chambers was ranked fourth.


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