Another chance in front of scouts

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Standout Gaels running back Jonah Pataki, who ranked fourth in the OUA this season with 814 rushing yards, is one of 45 prospects to receive an invitation to the National CFL Combine, which takes place in Regina March 23-25. 

The fourth-year rusher was elated to receive the call from the league office. 

“It’s just exciting,” he said. “It was obviously nice to perform well and get the invite … It’s just an awesome opportunity to represent Queen’s and represent myself, and to improve my stock ahead of the draft.”   

At the CFL Ontario Regional Combine, which four other Gaels attended, Pataki thrived. He ranked second in the shuttle drills (4.23 seconds) and vertical jump (36 inches), and fifth in the 40-yard dash (4.84 seconds) — slotting top-five in four of the six major testing categories. 

“We all prepared really hard since the start of the semester,” said Pataki of his teammates who also attended the regional trials. “It was great to see everybody do well.” He will be the only player from Queen’s at this year’s national combine. 

Testing days, Pataki added, are always a bit peculiar. Agility and speed are critical facets to a player’s game, and teams do right by testing for them, but they don’t necessarily translate to on-field play. In other words, one’s feel for the game and level of football IQ are intangible qualities — and a 40-yard dash won’t help in determining that. 

But nonetheless, Pataki said there is always room to improve and impress scouts from an athletic standpoint. 

“I think if you were to ask any athlete or football player about [combines], they’d probably tell you that they’re never happy with how they did,” he noted.

“I mean, I was obviously ecstatic about getting the invite and I thought I was doing well the whole time, but I always think I could do better.”

At the national combine, Pataki hopes to improve his 40-yard dash time, his 3-cone shuttle time and his vertical jump.  

With the draft over a month away, the soon-to-be Queen’s grad ushers in the last stage of his draft-prep this weekend in Regina. After that, it’s a waiting game — but he’s been putting himself in good situations, he said. 

Currently, Pataki has any interest from CFL teams filtered through his agent, Jayevan Foster — a former Queen’s grad and ex-Gaels football player — and founder of EMPIRE MGMT.

But right now, Pataki is focused on honing in on what he can control — blocking the noise and letting everything else play itself out. Step by step, he said.

“Mostly I’m just worried with doing well at the [national] combine … and afterwards, in the time between when I’m done and when the draft is in May, that’s when discussions happen.”

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