Czech prospect Alain Pae could be taken in Thursday’s CFL Draft

The 2020 Canadian Football League Draft will have an international flair.

The annual CFL draft is the moment many young Canadian football players see their pro football dreams become a reality.

Each year, the nine teams select eight rounds worth of Canadian citizens to play in the league. Most are born and bred Canadians, some were born in the country and moved elsewhere, and a handful of Americans earn their citizenship through their parents without ever haven set foot on Canadian soil.

This year, one prospect has entered the draft after earning his citizenship the old fashioned way.

Alain Pae was born in Prague, Czech Republic and began playing the sport of American football late, joining the Prague Lions at the age of 22. He learned fast and in his two seasons, 2015 and 2016, made an impact. In 10 games, he amassed 46 tackles including three tackles for loss for 86 yards, five sacks and eight quarterback hurries.  He was also studying at the local Charles University and after graduating, he sought out a graduate degree at the University of Ottawa, in the Canadian city that his father had lived and worked in for 15 years.

At six-foot-four and 240-pounds, the European defensive end was more than enticing enough to earn a spot with the University of Ottawa GeeGees football team. His lone season with the team in 2017 was a roaring success. Pae notched 25.5 tackles and six sacks in eight games on his way to OUA Conference All-Rookie team honours.

After graduating with a master’s in human kinetics, Pae stayed in Ottawa as a personal trainer and continued to train with members of the GeeGees team. Earlier this year, the Czech native completed the long process of becoming a Canadian citizen.

Pae had been in the process of attempting to continue his football career in the CFL through their Global draft process, but when Covid-19 put that on hold he was able to successfully apply for entry into the Canadian prospect pool thanks to his shiny new passport. Now, Pae will be in play as a late-round selection Thursday.

The fact that Pae is 27 and hasn’t played organized football in two years is a significant hurdle to his draft status, but he is extremely enticing in other ways.  The new Canadian has been clocked as fast as 4.65 seconds in the 40 yard dash and broad jumped ten-foot-two-inches, both of which could be considered elite among Canadian prospects. His freakish bend and athleticism has caused his draft stock to rise, even one NFL scout has been in contact about him.

Where, when and if Pae will be selected are all unknowns, but for new European followers of the Canadian league, he is a name to root for.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.