There are no football worries in David Lowry's mind.
Today's CFL Canadian College Draft should be a piece of cake for the University of Alberta Golden Bears linebacker, considering the first three hours of his day will be focused on a final exam in biochemistry.
"I had a pretty good year last year and I've talked to a couple of teams so I'm looking forward to it," said Lowry of the draft.
Pretty good is understating what Lowry accomplished with the Bears a season ago.
The six-foot-three, 239-pounder was the Canada West conference's defensive player of the year and a first team All-Canadian after racking up 68 tackles, four sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception.
"He's an outstanding athlete," said Bears head coach Jerry Friesen. "He makes great open-field tackles and his work on special teams just adds to his defensive play."
The hometown Eskimos and Ottawa Renegades have shown the most interest in Lowry. A likely choice in the first three rounds, Lowry could probably step right into a CFL roster with his abilities in kick coverage, but there's plenty of work left to be done at the U of A - and not just in the classroom.
KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN
"I'm keeping my options open," explained Lowry. "If I went to (a CFL) training camp, I'd go to compete and try to make the team. But I definitely want to finish what we've started here.
"I think there's a great opportunity next year for the Bears to make a run at the Vanier Cup. That would play a pretty large factor in my decision so I think there's a pretty good chance I'll be staying."
Growing up in Lethbridge, Lowry had his share of high-school rivalries with new U of A teammate Brett Ralph, who attended Raymond high school.
The football bloodlines run deep for Ralph, whose middle brother Brock was Eskimos property until taking a stab at the NFL with the New York Jets. Older brother Dustin finished his stint with the Bears last season.
All three receivers were at the University of Wyoming in 2000, but Brett left after a year to go on a Mormon mission. He returned to football at Boise State in 2003 but bolted for Edmonton despite expectations from the Broncos that he would be a major target last season. After sitting out the 2004 campaign, he's now tabbed to be a huge offensive threat for the Bears and an alluring possibility for CFL teams.
"The thing that makes him special is his ability to run. He has great speed," said Rick Campbell, the Eskimos defensive secondary coach who compiles the team's draft info. "I guess there are questions about him because his history is a bit scattered, so it's a matter of him settling down somewhere and seeing how he plays."
Ralph is a shade undersized but his blazing speed and soft hands could make him a steal as a late-round pick. The Bears have three other players in the draft-eligible mix - the most compelling being senior receiver Jason Moss, who had 27 catches for 369 yards and one touchdown last season.
Two long shots are defensive lineman Darren Balderson and running back David Bissett.
WHAT'S THE DEAL? Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia yesterday played down rumours of a trade that would send receiver Terry Vaughn to Ottawa for one of the Renegades' two first-round picks.
"I'd be surprised if there's a trade tied into the draft," said Maciocia.
MEMORIAL FOR WES: The Eskimos are hosting a memorial service for former announcer, MC extraordinaire and team loyalist Wes Montgomery beginning Saturday at 3 p.m. in the gymnasium at the Commonwealth Stadium Fitness Centre.