Varga, Bridge among 4 Canadians invited to NFL Combine
Four Canadians have earned invitations to the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from February 17-23 [the on-field combine portion begins Fri. Feb. 20]. Heading down to Indy are the Canadian foursome of Tyler Varga, running back (Kitchener, ON / Yale); Brandon Bridge, quarterback (Mississauga, ON / S. Alabama); Brett Boyko, offensive line (Saskatoon, SK / UNLV); and Christian Covington, defensive line (Vancouver, BC / Rice).
More than 300 players of the top college football players eligible to be selected in the NFL draft are invited to the annual combine. Respective teams coaching staff’s and player personnel will be on hand to get up close and personal with the athletes in attendance.
Kitchener, Ontario native Tyler Varga is the first Canadian running back since Jon Cornish (in 2007) to be invited to the NFL Combine.
Varga impressed at the 2015 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, rushing four times for 31 yards and two touchdowns. He added four catches for 39 yards in addition to leading to the way as a fullback a number of times including a 4-yard touchdown run. Throughout the week Varga also impressed in pass protection – something that is rare for a college running back.
Varga is an alumnus of the 2010 Football Canada Cup, representing Team Ontario West in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where he was named the tournament’s offensive MVP.
As a true freshman with the Western Mustangs in 2011, Varga won the CIS Rookie of the Year Award. He rushed for a league leading 15 touchdowns and 799 yards – second most in the OUA and fifth most in CIS.
Following his freshman season, the aspiring doctor transferred to Yale to play in the Ivey League.
In 10 games this season Varga rushed for an impressive 1,423 yards and 22 touchdowns. He added 12 catches, four of which were for touchdowns to set a new single-season school record of 26 majors. What’s even more impressive is in 9 out of 10 of his games this season he rushed for over 100 yards. During his career at Yale, Varga hit the century mark during a game 17 times in 24 total games.
This season he was a unanimous selection as first team All-Ivy in addition as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the most outstanding FCS player.
Mississauga’s Brandon Bridge is one of 15 quarterbacks invited to the NFL combine – a rare feat for a Canadian QB. Bridge will look to follow in the footsteps of Canadian-born NFL pivots Mark Rypien and Jesse Palmer.
Bridge represented Canada at the inaugural 2009 U-19 World Championship in Canton, Ohio, helping the nation to silver.
Following high school, Bridge had scholarship interest from the University of Buffalo until a coaching change derailed the opportunity. Earning the nickname, “Air Canada”, Bridge opted to attend Division I-AA Alcorn State. The Mississauga product would later transfer to DI-A South Alabama following a coaching regime change at his first stop.
Bridge continued to excel and earned the opportunity to start in his senior season. Appearing in 10 games, he threw for 1,927 yards and 15 touchdowns with 8 interceptions in 2014, while adding 297 yards and 4 scores on the ground. Bridge’s invitation to the 2015 NFL draft is a first in South Alabama history – an honour he shares with teammate Wes Saxton.
Blessed with a rare combination of size (six-foot-five, 235-pounds), speed and arm strength, Bridge has drawn comparisons to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He’s been working on his craft and continues to improve. In the summer of 2014, Bridge finished second in the Manning Passing Academy Air-It-Out Challenge, outperforming the likes of Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) offensive lineman Brett Boyko currently sits atop CFL draft boards. A strong showing at the combine might put his CFL career on hold for a shot at the NFL.
The six-foot-seven, 310-pound Saskatoon native who played quarterback his senior season at St. Joseph HS, started at left tackle for the Rebels beginning the first game of his redshirt freshman season. He’s one of the best offensive lineman in the Mountain West conference and currently projects as a late round NFL draft selection. If undrafted Boyko would still a chance to receive a free agent invite to an NFL training camp.
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