Manitoba quarterback Jordan Yantz hopes to earn CFL shot
University of Manitoba Bisons quarterback Jordan Yantz. (Chris Procaylo/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency)
Every year a couple of quarterbacks come out to the CFL combine to serve as the guys who throw the balls to the receivers and hand them off to running backs. They’re basically invisible to the scouts on hand.
There is talk around the CFL that Jordan Yantz could be the Canadian quarterback who breaks that trend this year.
The University of Manitoba Bisons quarterback will be one of two pivots taking part in this weekend’s CFL combine in Toronto, and he can’t wait to prove he can play the position like his American counterparts.
“I’m putting everything I’ve worked for my entire life into this weekend,” Yantz said Wednesday. “Being a Canadian quarterback, I’m honoured to get this opportunity, because how Canadian quarterbacks are evaluated at the next level is very tough and I’m honoured to be one of the two guys who gets invited to this combine and get a chance.
“I’ve been playing football for 16 years, and this is kind of the final interview. It’s something that I’m really excited about, and I’ve been training extra hard, not only physically but mentally as well.”
Yantz, who hails from Regina, has a strong arm and also has the ability to move well around the pocket. He threw 10 touchdown passes and an average of 270 passing yards per game for the Bisons, who advanced all the way to the CIS semifinal round in November.
There are CFL scouts who have said Yantz has the tools to play quarterback in the league, but there’s a big difference between saying that and actually signing them to a contract. Yantz took part in Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp last season as part of a CIS/CFL initiative to give Canadian quarterbacks some experience, and he didn’t look out of place.
Yantz, who is a confident young man, believes he can be the Canadian quarterback who doesn’t have to switch positions to play professionally.
“For sure,” he said. “It just takes the right guy and the right person to say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna take a chance, and we’re gonna give this guy a shot.’ It just depends on number crunching and giving a Canadian quarterback a chance. That’s all it’s going to take. Testing results aren’t as relevant for me. I don’t think it makes a difference so much for me if I run a blazing fast 40 or jump the highest.
“It’s just simply going to have to come down to one general manager or one head coach or one guy that’s in the war room to say, ‘We’re gonna give this guy a chance.’ ”
Calgary’s Andrew Buckley is the other quarterback who will take part in the combine.
Two regional combines have taken place already, with a third scheduled for Thursday in Toronto.
Eight players — four from Monday’s Edmonton combine and four from the one in Montreal on Wednesday — performed well enough to punch their tickets to the main evaluation camp.
Three members of the Montreal Carabins advanced from Wednesday’s regional — defensive lineman Jean-Samuel Blanc and defensive back Anthony Coady and receiver Mikhail Davidson — along with Sherbooke running back William Langlais.
Regina defensive back Kahlen Branning, Okanagan Sun defensive back Dexter Janke, South Dakota linebacker Auston Johnson, and Brigham Young offensive lineman Quinn Lawlor were extended invitations on Monday in Edmonton.
One of the more high profile remaining free agents re-signed with his team earlier this week. Receiver Bakari Grant decided to return to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ... The B.C. Lions extended defensive back Ryan Phillips’ contract for two more years, and they also announced kicker Paul McCallum, who turned 45 in January, will be back for the 2015 campaign ... The CFL competition committee started meeting in Toronto on Wednesday and will continue to chat on Thursday. Several significant rules are on the agenda, including changes to the convert, punt team movement and the play clock.
HERE'S WHAT THE INSIDERS ARE SAYING
CFL coaches and managers give their anonymous thoughts on what they’re talking about behind closed doors:
Who’s had the best off-season? Ottawa. They got better for sure. We were talking about the other division last week, and some of us think they might be good enough to sneak in the playoffs over in the East ... How long are you willing to sign and how likely are you to want to stay where you are drafted? Those are questions that have to be asked of guys at the combine. It can become prevalent now because this will be the first year that we’re completely working under the new CBA. Who’s the first high, high pick to say, ‘Thanks, but I’m just taking a two-year deal’ for any number of reasons? Because they went to a regional combine or because they’re an East Coast guy going west or a West Coast guy going east. Who’s the first to bring that up? ... What’s surprised me the most about the off-season so far was Montreal getting old on purpose. They signed (Nik) Lewis, (traded for Fred) Stamps, (Chris) Thompson, (Stefan) Logan and some other old players I’m probably forgetting. Maybe they wanted more veterans because they have young quarterbacks. I don’t know. (Jim) Popp has a lot of Grey Cup rings, so I’ll just worry about coaching my team and let him figure out Montreal ... So many kids went to the NFL regional workouts. How does it affect their performance this weekend? Because they’re not built that way, to be doing multiple combines in a short period of time ... Getting a new commissioner doesn’t affect us much on the football side ... One player we’re looking forward to seeing this weekend is (Calgary offensive lineman) Sukh Chungh ... We don’t have enough draft picks. I hope we can trade back and get a couple more ... If you had a good free-agent period this year, you were likely not that good last year. In saying that, Ottawa and Winnipeg did fine this year. Toronto did not have a good free-agency period ... This draft is deep. A lot of future starters will be drafted after the first two rounds. This year, third- and fourth-round draft picks are as valuable as second-rounders are most years ... One player people are talking about going into the regional combine is (Henoc and Cauchy) Muamba’s brother (Kelvin, a receiver). He is working out at the Toronto one and has supposedly put up good testing numbers. He’s been injury prone, though ... I’ve coached a long time and this is the best group of offensive lineman I’ve seen in the draft. Wouldn’t be surprised to see five or six offensive lineman go in the first round ... (Receiver) Nic Demski has a lot to prove at the combine ... The first thing the new commissioner has to do is fix Toronto ... Everybody needs offensive linemen. Everybody. Last year, two or three teams were playing with three American offensive lineman. That’s not what they wanted to do; it’s what they had to do ... I think that number six (Jake Harty) at Calgary is going to be a good player. He won’t be a first-rounder. Might not even be a second-rounder. But in a few years he might be as good as any of the receivers in this draft ... Looking at our draft breakdown, I realized that Calgary and Hamilton — the two Grey Cup teams — have the most picks in the upcoming draft. How does that happen? The rich will get richer. But as much as it (bugs) me I have to give them credit. They weren’t given those extra picks — they traded for them. Good organizations find a way to win.