Nielsen's ratings soar

Defensive back Eric Nielsen from the Acadia Axemen knocks down a pass intended for UBC receiver...

Defensive back Eric Nielsen from the Acadia Axemen knocks down a pass intended for UBC receiver Nathan Beveridge during the CFL's evaluation camp yesterday. (Ottawa Sun/Geoff Robins)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

CFL coaches and talent evaluators were generally disappointed in the quality level at yesterday's league/Renegades-hosted combine held to showcase the best college players in Canada at the Superdome in Gloucester.

Alexandria's Eric Nielsen was one of the few to stand out.

An Acadia Axemen defensive back who usually had opposing quarterbacks looking for targets away from his side of the field, the speedy Nielsen grew up a hockey player and Ottawa Lions track and field club member and didn't take to the gridiron until his last year of high school. The next summer (2001) he joined the Myers Riders, which in turn was his stepping stone to a solid career at Acadia.

But yesterday, even Nielsen couldn't quite locate his "A" game. He was unable to match his personal best 40-yard time of 4.45 seconds -- Queen's running back Bryan Crawford was the fastest on the day, clocking a pair of 4.5s -- and he was cleanly beaten on a passing play. Nielsen did make up for that one with a spectacular breakup a little later, however.

"I definitely thought it went well," the 6-foot, 180-pounder said of his skills display five weeks before the CFL draft. "Obviously, you hope everything goes perfect and in reality, nothing ever does. But I did the best I could and we'll see what happens from there."

Another locally grown DB, Gatineau's Matthieu Proulx, scored the best time (4.07 seconds) in the agility challenging T-test.

York running back Josh Martry had the best standing broad jump (nine feet, nine inches) and the longest sit and reach for flexibility (19 inches).

Offensive lineman Rob Christie, out of Rocky Mountain College, benched press 225 lbs. 24 times, the most reps by any of the prospects.

OVERALL CROP DISAPPOINTING

"Okay," Renegades coach and GM Joe Paopao said when asked how he felt about the overall performances. "Sometimes, you never know ... I thought they looked better live than they did on the tapes of them we've been watching the past two years."

Paopao singled out Laval defensive lineman Miguel Robede, Acadia offensive lineman Godfrey Ellis, McMaster offensive lineman Fabio Filice, Saskatchewan running back Jeff Piercy, Tulsa running back Cory Hathaway and St. Mary's running back Les Mullings, who has a decent shot of becoming a Renegade with the second overall pick in the draft.

"I think this made it easier," Paopao, said of the decision making to be done by April 28. "This gave us more insight to their ability and personalities."

Paopao wouldn't rule out the possibility he'll use his first pick to select a player who didn't attend this combine and could be in a position to explore NFL options.

One such individual is Brantford's Nick Kaczur, a 6-foot-5, 305-lb. offensive lineman with the University of Toledo.

END ZONES: DB Phillipe Gauthier was surrounded by familiar faces at the evaluation camp. Not only was he one of six members of the Laval Rouge et Or, but, as a Gatineau native, also had his father, Richard, at the camp for support and photo opportunities. "I'm pretty satisfied with how I did," said Gauthier. "It was a fun day." ... Renegades C George Hudson and wife Shannon are the proud parents of their first child, who was born Friday morning at Ottawa General. The 8-lb., 8-oz. boy's name -- Val Alexander. After fellow lineman and close friend Val St. Germain? "One of the first dates Shannon and I had, we went to see The Saint (starring Val Kilmer)," Hudson said yesterday. "And I've always liked the name. (St-Germain) actually poisoned it for me a little," he added with a laugh.


Videos

Photos