No. 1 on hit parade

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

There's one surefire way to get Dwayne Slay's eyes to light up: ask him what it's like to deliver the perfect hit.

"The perfect hit," Slay said, repeating the words like they were sacred. "Squaring up, all you see is the ball carrier. My eyes get a little bigger. You just want to take the right angle, maybe put that face mask on his face mask at a certain velocity. And maybe that ball will come out, if you get him right."

And if you get him just right?

"It feels like you're just running through air. You don't even feel it. Not at all. You definitely know it."

If you want to see what Slay is talking about, Google his name and check out the YouTube video of his college hit on a Kansas State quarterback named Allan Evridge in 2005.

It's No. 1 on Slay's hit list.

"The one everyone talks about," he said. "I think I broke his jaw or something. He had a concussion."

If you want to see Slay firsthand, maybe drop by Winnipeg Blue Bomber training camp, where the former Texas Tech Red Raider is trying out at linebacker and safety.

Then again, through two days of rookie camp they've yet to put on full pads, which must leave Slay feeling a bit like a chained pit bull with a raw T-bone placed just out of his reach. All he can do is wait.

"The coach said there's not going to be too much contact. But things happen accidentally," Slay said, chuckling. "If he allows it, I'll look forward to doing it."

The product of Brunswick, Ga., has looked forward to it since the first time he really clocked someone. It was his senior year at Texas Tech when Slay, not known for his hitting, discovered "the feeling."

"After the first time I did it, it gave me a great sensation," he said. "So I said, 'You know what? I'm going to try it again.' And it kept coming over and over again. So I tried to make it my niche in the game of football."

It helped make him a starter that senior season in college -- the only year he started -- but it wasn't enough to land him in the '06 NFL draft.

His eight forced fumbles in '05 (a Big 12 Conference record) 101 tackles and a nod as the conference's defensive player of the year, plus being named a Sports Illustrated all-American, did attract the attention of the Chicago Bears, who signed him as a free agent.

It was while on the Bears practice roster during their '06 Super Bowl run that Slay was felled by a torn achilles tendon, wiping out his entire '07 season.

"It can be a career-ending injury," he said. "I'm very fortunate. I work hard and put myself in a situation to bounce back. To prove I can move around and get back to where I was a couple years ago."

That's what this season is all about.

Just 24 next month, Slay had originally signed to play indoor football in Texas, when the Bombers invited him to bring his hit parade to Canada.

He made an instant impression, grabbing a couple interceptions on Day 1, along with the attention of the coaches.

"When you meet him, he's really a nice guy," head man Doug Berry said. "And then to think he could be a physical football player. He's made a couple plays and played a couple different positions... he's a big guy that can run and has got some experience."

And he'd love to throw his 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame into someone, a rookie, vet, doesn't matter -- they're all fair game when you're trying to land a job.

"I'm trying to make a name for myself in Canada," Slay said. "That's one thing you try to do, strike fear in the offensive guys. Let 'em know you're there.

"It's so fun. It's a thrill."

Now if they'll only let him put on pads, that'd be perfect.


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