It’s no coincidence the Edmonton Eskimos hold their open tryouts in the week leading up to draft day in the CFL.
Calvin McCarty is living proof.
In 2007, the non-import running back attended the team’s inaugural one-day camp to give coaches a good look. It turns out they liked what they saw and drafted the Boise State/Western Washington product in the fourth round, 27th overall, a week later.
“I think it’s a good tool for guys that think they can still play to come out and get an opportunity to show themselves and hopefully get an opportunity out here,” said McCarty. “I didn’t get invited to the combine, but I knew I could play so it was just a matter of me getting a shot.”
And he hit a bull’s-eye.
“Coming out I didn’t know anybody,” said the Burnaby, B.C., native. “Still, it’s the same. It’s still football. The field’s still 110 yards, the same width. It’s all the same, just different surroundings, so as long as you keep it simple and don’t come out and expect too much.
“Just showcase what you’ve got and hopefully it works out.”
Since the first open tryout in 2007, the Eskimos have signed a handful of attendees over the years, including fullback Chris Ciezki, linebacker Greg Whelan and long-snapper Taylor Inglis.
All three are products of local junior programs, which had more representatives at this year’s camp who turned out strong showings.
McCarty hopes they made the most of it.
“It was just funny, even now I still use it as motivation,” McCarty said. “Going 27th and guys getting drafted ahead of me that aren’t in the league and I’m still here. I’m grateful, being a later pick, that I still have an opportunity to play and still do what I love.
“I’m thankful every day for my opportunity.”