German defensive lineman Hor leaves combine feeling he can play in CFL

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Marc-Anthony Hor is convinced he belongs in the CFL.

The burly German defensive lineman was among 18 Europeans participating in the CFL’s national combine this weekend. The 26-year-old left the event Sunday feeling he can play in the league.

“I can go with the Canadian players, I can definitely play with them,” said the six-foot-four 295-pound native of Mannheim, Germany. “I can see myself playing in the CFL, I think I have a shot.”

Hor had 28 reps in the bench press Saturday, tops among Europeans. On Sunday, the Frankfurt Universe player was solid in the one-on-one drills, showing his brute strength.

Twice he was asked to line up in matchups requested by CFL officials.

Hor’s CFL future could involve making the switch to offence. One team asked Hor if he’d be willing to play on the offensive line, which he said he would.

Hor also interviewed with all nine CFL teams and said the combine only reaffirmed his desire to take football as far as he could.

“Definitely,” he said. “If there’s an option for me to come here I’d go right away.

“I don’t even question that, I’ll just go straight to the CFL.”

On Sunday, the CFL sent Matthew Boateng home after the Fresno State defensive back wouldn’t test, reportedly because he had flu-like symptoms. The league also sent Oklahoma State tackle Shane Richards home Saturday after he opted against testing.

German Sonny Weishaupt was among the three quarterbacks to throw Sunday, joining Western University’s Chris Merchant and UBC’s Michael O’Connor. However, O’Connor participated in shorts and a T-shirt after forgetting to bring his helmet and shoulder pads.

After posting a vertical jump of 22.5 inches and no reps in the bench press Saturday, the six-foot-three 208-pound Weishaupt wanted to shine Sunday. He showed a deft passing touch at times but lacked the consistency of his Canadian counterparts.

Still, considering he was coming off a concussion suffered three weeks ago and flu-like symptoms, Weishaupt was content with his performance.

“I put the best foot forward I could right now,” he said. “This is definitely not the best version of me … but it is what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“The weekend itself was the extraordinary, prime experience we all expected it would be. I’m definitely a better player for this. When you put in time with top athletes, that always makes you better.”

And with a bit more preparation, Weishaupt is convinced European players could perform even better at the combine.

“Not trying to sound cocky or anything but football is football,” he said. “I’m sure if there was a bit more training with these extra things like the ball, wider and longer field and the waggle, Europeans could do much better. We’re all used to the typical American football version.”

Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said Weishaupt had much to process Sunday.

“The difficult thing is he’s throwing to guys he’s never thrown to and having to deal with the waggle and a different field,” he said. “He probably had the most challenging aspects thrown at him of all the European players.”

Dickenson felt the Europeans fared well overall.

“I thought they represented themselves well,” he said. “I think having them here was a good experience.

“Anything that grows the game is good.”

The Europeans competed at the combine thanks to the efforts of CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who secured agreements this off-season with nine international associations.

“I think it’s been a great success,” he said. “I watched the offensive and defensive linemen do their drills and there were some kids there that were very impressive and our coaches were talking about how well some of them did.”

The quarterbacks used Wilson footballs with embedded sensors that measured release time, time of flight, spiral efficiency and arm strength.

“The ball was a little tacky but other than that you didn’t really notice the difference,” said Merchant. “There was obviously plenty of talent, plenty of speed out there … it just took a little getting used to.

“There were a couple of throws I wish I had back but that goes with every day. Hopefully I got more good throws than bad. The weekend overall went very well.”

Queen’s receiver Chris Osei-Kusi captured the combine’s marquee event, posting the fastest 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds. The Ottawa native said he knew he had a good run when he crossed the finish line.

“It felt fast,” he said. “When it said 4.47, I just said, ‘Yes,’ because all that dedication and the long hours are all worth it when you hear a time like that.”

More importantly, the six-foot-two 197-pound Osei-Kusi showed he can transfer that speed to the field in the individual passing drills.

“Many scouts asked me what my best physical trait was and I told them my speed,” he said. “Being able to go down the field and show I can make a play on the ball and get it down there was definitely something I wanted to show.”

Osei-Kusi also enjoyed rubbing elbows with and competing against the European players, a sentiment echoed by several Canadians.

“Man, it was awesome,” he said. “Some people were expecting them to maybe not compete as well but I felt like they competed with the best of us.

“Many of them had general questions about the CFL game and it was cool kind of being that mentor.”