German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt aims to impress at CFL combine

The Canadian Press
German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt aims to impress at CFL combine
German quarterback Sonny Weishaupt aims to impress at CFL combine

TORONTO — Sonny Weishaupt wants to finish the CFL combine with a bang.

The German-born quarterback is one of 18 Europeans participating in the league's national combine for the first time. After posting less than stellar results in the vertical jump (22.5 inches) and bench press (no reps) Saturday, the six-foot-three 208-pound Weishaupt can't wait to throw in the one-on-one drills Sunday.

Weishaupt had a 28-inch vertical jump but it was disallowed. He also appeared to register a rep in the bench but it, too, was disallowed, much to the quarterback's disbelief.

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Upon getting up from the bench, Weishaupt gave the evaluator a long look before heading off. Weishaupt had moderate expectations Saturday considering he received his combine invitation about three weeks ago and has been recovering from a concussion and flu-like symptoms.

"I was thinking whether to do it (bench) but I wanted to show my effort," he said. "I'm definitely disappointed with my performance but today is a day to get over with.

"If I would've got more reps or a better vertical, it wouldn't have changed anything. (Sunday) is the day to really perform, to put on a show, to throw well and show what I can do."

Weishaupt should get plenty of chances considering he's one of only three quarterbacks at the combine. The others are U.B.C.'s Michael O'Connor and Western's Chris Merchant.

"Being here is a humbling experience," Weishaupt said. "It's definitely a huge honour to be able to represent Europe and my country.

"It's kind of like a pioneer group of Europeans that's here for the first time. It's definitely an experience I'll tell my grandkids about when I have them later on in my life."

Weishaupt, 26, was 55-of-104 passing (51.9 per cent) for 554 yards with six TDs and two interceptions in 15 games last year with France's Grenoble Centaures. In 2017, he completed 123-of-176 passes (69.9 per cent) for 1,523 yards with 21 TDs and three interceptions.

The native of Ashaffenburg, Germany, comes by his football prowess honestly. His father was one of the first Germans to play American football in the 1980s and later served as a stadium announcer for games.

And growing up, Weishaupt was an exchange student in Georgia, witnessing first-hand the phenomenon that is American high school football. He's anxious to show CFL officials what he can do in a football environment.

"I'm a pocket passer so what's important for me is timing," he said. "I want to show them the footwork, throwing mechanics and getting the ball where it's supposed to be in the right window in the right time, just getting as many completions as possible.

"I'd assume it (throwing to new receivers) is the same disadvantage for all of us ... it's a new setting for everybody so I think that kind of equals it out. It's always different when you have a defensive back covering but again, football is football and you just have to hit (receivers)."

Alberta offensive lineman Jonathan Harke topped the bench with 32 reps while Carleton defensive back Jacob Dearborn had the best vertical (42 inches). German defensive lineman Marc-Anthony Hor was the top European in the bench (28 reps) while compatriot Thiadric Hanson, a linebacker, led the vertical (38 inches).

Weishaupt won't be the only European player with something to prove Sunday. Finn Okko Outinen, a solid six-foot-three 270-pound defensive lineman with the Helsinki Roosters, only benched Saturday (21 reps) as a torn calf prevented him from doing the vertical jump.

Outinen, 29, was hurt two weeks ago preparing for the 40-yard dash and doesn't expect to run it Sunday. But the full-time marine biologist will compete in the one-on-one drills.

"I'll get my leg taped up," he said. "It's going to hurt very much if I don't do anything, I promise you that.

"I want to show I can play football and I can beat anyone they put against me. I know I can ...  but with my leg we'll see what I can do."

Outinen, a former hockey player who took up football eight years ago, said it's important Europeans perform well at the combine.

"If we do terrible numbers then they might as well say this was a stupid idea and we're not going to bring these guys anymore," he said. "Definitely we want to show we can work hard."

The CFL sent offensive tackle Shane Richards home Saturday after he decided against testing. The six-foot-six 334-pound Oklahoma State player interviewed with teams Friday night and was weighed and measured Saturday before stating he wouldn't test.

Richards, from Calgary, participated in Oklahoma State's pro day March 12, posting 22 reps in the bench press and a 27-inch vertical jump. He was ranked second on the CFL scouting bureau's top-20 draft prospects behind Laval's Mathieu Betts, who is skipping this event.

Laurier receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., the No. 9- ranked draft prospect, commended the CFL for bringing Europeans to the combine.

"It means a lot to our players, too, and to the whole community," he said. "It's growing football internationally, which is a good thing.

"I'm happy we get to meet new guys, not just guys we've played against. It's a good thing for the whole league."

Gittens Jr., an Ottawa native, also can't wait for Sunday.

"Yeah, (Saturday) shows how strong you are and how high you can jump," he said. "But (on Sunday), we'll see who the actual football players are and that's the exciting part.

"I haven't played football in a couple months. I miss it, I miss the intensity, I miss the adrenaline rush, I miss everything about it so I'm excited."

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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