Prospect catches a break

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

Under a giant bubble at Varsity Centre early yesterday afternoon, Kerry Joseph cocked his right and followed through, hitting his intended target in the numbers with a hard pass.

That the receiver was a Canadian Football League prospect didn't matter to Joseph. The CFL wrapped up its annual two-day evaluation camp, nearly two months in advance of the Canadian draft on May 2. Joseph and fellow Argonauts quarterbacks Cody Pickett and Reggie McNeal were summoned for the day for passing drills.

For Joseph, it was the first chance he had to throw a football in Toronto since the Argos' 4-14 season ended last October with a loss to Saskatchewan. For the 50 prospects, it was a chance to demonstrate they're worthy of being drafted in a couple of months.

"I hope I turned some heads, and got some coaches who weren't paying attention to start paying attention now," said University of Toronto defensive back and Scarborough native Matt Morris, who had interviews with the Argos and Calgary Stampeders. "This didn't get me nervous at all. I felt like I showed I can compete and play at the next level."

For University of Waterloo receiver Josh Svec, who was second in the CIS last season with 864 receiving yards, the rare opportunity to catch ball from Joseph, Pickett and McNeal was a bonus.

"It really is," Svec, a native of Blenheim, Ont., said. "Got to communicate with them, and they helped with things like routes. Just to be able to catch a pro ball is going to help. I had to swing my head around quicker."

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Argos have the first four picks in the draft, with the Ticats selecting first. Toronto goes next, followed by Hamilton (originally Winnipeg's pick) and the Argos (with a pick that had belonged to Edmonton). The B.C. Lions choose fifth.

The CFL's scouting bureau ranked the top 15 prospects and has Alberta offensive lineman Simeon Rottier at No. 1, with Bishop's running back Jamall Lee second. Lee, who probably would help invigorate an Argos running game that could use some aid, set evaluation camp records with a 4.39 40-yard sprint and a 44-inch vertical jump.

Perhaps most important to the smattering of Argos fans on hand was that Joseph is in a positive frame of mind. With a contract extension in his pocket, Joseph noted that it was just more than a year ago that the Argos traded for him from Saskatchewan. It was a year Joseph would like to forget, but knows he can do that only by rebounding on the field.

"This is probably the best shape I have been in at this time of year in a long time," Joseph said. "The economy is in recession, but you hang around long enough, and it's going to turn. We went through the recession and now it is time to build it back up."


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