Sat Mar 05 04:31pm EST
The various tests conducted at the CFL's E-Camp don't necessarily directly correlate to how players will perform on the field or how much interest they'll draw from CFL teams in the draft, but they do give you an idea of what these guys are capable of physically. A case in point is Laurier offensive lineman Michael Knill, who smashed the CFL record of 40 bench press repetitions (set last year by another Golden Hawk, running back Mike Montoya) with 47. Those repetitions are with a weight of 225 pounds, the same weight used at the NFL combine earlier this year (where Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea broke that event's record with 49 reps). Knill came in with the goal of beating Paea's NFL mark with 50, but he told CFL.ca's Arden Zwelling he was quite happy with the 47 reps he put up. Not all records lead to CFL draft success, though; see Queen's star cornerback/return man Jimmy Allin, who went undrafted in 2009 despite being an All-Canadian and an OUA all-star at multiple positions and setting a E-Camp record in the shuttle run. We'll see if Knill's performance turns out better for him in the draft than Allin's did, but as the video below shows, what he did was certainly pretty impressive:
Knill is an interesting story, and his path to E-Camp was certainly unusual. He was born in Michigan and grew up in Ontario, but his family moved back to Michigan when he was 15. By the CFL's eligibility rules (non-import players must have lived in Canada for at least seven years before the age of 15), that makes him a non-import, but according to a piece TSN's Duane Forde wrote in 2009, nobody in the CFL realized that until recently. Knill is one of the few guys to suit up for both Michigan and Michigan State in the NCAA (both as a walk-on!), and Forde's piece said he should have been eligible for the 2007 Canadian draft if people had realized his non-import qualifications. Then again, that same piece projects him as a guy to watch for the 2010 draft (alongside eventual #1 pick Shomari Williams, another Canadian-raised NCAA to CIS player), so it's not particularly clear why Knill's eligible this year instead of last year.
Still, Knill is clearly a workout warrior (he apparently still holds the Michigan bench record with 48 reps of 225), and having an offensive lineman with that kind of strength could come in very handy. he's also got a lot of size (he's listed at 6'6'' , 350 pounds). Moreover, he clearly has at least some idea how to use that size; he was named a second-team OUA all-star at tackle in 2010. Knill is 26 and turning 27 in September, so he's one of the older players at E-Camp, but that doesn't necessarily work against him as much as you might think; 2010 B.C. Lions' draft pick Danny Watkins, a former firefighter who started football late in life and just finished his NCAA career at 26, is projected to be picked high in the NFL draft this year. We'll see if Knill draws similar attention in this year's CFL draft, but he clearly has the size and strength to be intriguing, and his impressive bench press performance can only help his stock.