TORONTO — He's back to his natural blond hair colour but Karlis Brauns expects to make a grand entrance when the B.C. Lions open training camp.
B.C. took the free-spirited Latvian defensive lineman third overall in the CFL global draft Tuesday. In March, the six-foot-four, 270-pound Brauns turned heads by sporting pink hair at the CFL combine.
The pink hair was absent Tuesday when Brauns spoke to reporters during a CFL zoom call. But he certainly could be donning another different colour by the time he reports to the Lions.
"It (pink colour) takes some maintenance and there's no public appearances so it went away but it will be coming back," he said. "There was talk about going orange (one of the Lions colours) and I thought, 'That's not a terrible idea,' so we'll see."
In March, Brauns explained why he dyed his hair.
"When you talk about defensive linemen, they have to be a little crazy and be bullies," Brauns said. "That's kind of the main thing I wanted to say.
"I'm not going to be low-key, I'm not going to take breaks. I'm going to be crazy every time."
But Brauns turned heads at the combine for more than just his hair. He arrived in impeccable condition — with between 12 and 13 per cent body fat — then put up 29 reps in the 225-pound bench press and covered the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds.
"Having played in Europe for a while, this is where it actually starts for me because this is what I'd say is finally a chance to play serious football," Brauns said. "Getting drafted is all good and well and I'm very excited, but this is where the real work begins."
The Montreal Alouettes selected Nigerian-born defensive lineman Kingsley Jonathan first overall. The 24-year-old had 101 tackles (60 solo, 21.5 for loss), 15 sacks, three forced fumbles and two recoveries in 56 career games with the Syracuse Orange.
But Montreal will have to wait for Jonathan, who agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills on Saturday after being bypassed in the NFL draft.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats took Australian punter Bailey Flint with the second selection. Joel Whitford, another Australian, handled punting duties in 2021 and this off-season the East Division champions signed Irish-born punter/kicker Tadhg Leader, who's also a former rugby player.
But Flint will first attend the Pittsburgh Steelers mini-camp May 13, something he said he informed CFL clubs of before the draft.
"Playing professional football is what I want to do," Flint said. "I'm going to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers mini camp, I'm going to compete.
"Should I not end up signing a free-agent deal after that camp or not be offered another deal with an NFL team, I'll be heading up to Hamilton."
Hamilton claimed another Australian punter, Blake Hayes, to open the second round (10th overall) as five of the first 10 players taken were punters from Down Under. The Toronto Argonauts picked John Haggerty at No. 4, then two picks later the Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Tom Hackett at No. 6 before Edmonton drafted Ben Griffiths at No. 9
With the fifth selection, the Saskatchewan Roughriders took Swedish linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath. After Winnipeg's pick, the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks chose offensive linemen (Bamidele Olaseni of the United Kingdom and Mexico's Hector Zepeda, respectively) before Edmonton rounded out the opening around.
Twenty-seven players from 12 countries were taken over three rounds, including eight punters (seven from Australia, one from Belgium) and two kickers (from Brazil and Mexico, respectively). Australia led the way with eight selections.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2022.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press