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Gaels pleased with their performance at CFL Combine
Posted: March 24th, 2013 @ 7:25pm
TORONTO - The hardest thing Josh Prinsen had to do on the weekend was nothing.
"Both mornings we were up early for testing," said the Queen's Golden Gaels offensive tackle, who spent the weekend under the microscope of Canadian Football League scouts and coaches at the annual evaluation of draft-eligible seniors known as the Combine.
"(Saturday) I was back in my room by 9 a.m. after dealing with bench press and all that. So now you're sitting in your room for three hours until lunch. It's just really hard to clear your mind and relax. That was hardest part for me, the time off.
"It wasn't really stressful - you're just anxious. It's excitement, I guess."
Prinsen, the Holy Cross Secondary School grad from Napanee, was one of three Golden Gaels among the 55 players from across the country invited to this weekend's annual exercise. Defensive lineman John Miniaci and receiver Justin Chapdelaine were the others.
Becoming acclimated to the surroundings was the biggest test for Miniaci.
"Getting used to the overwhelming feeling of being watched, like cattle," he said, "under the big spotlight, with everybody's eyes on you."
The three did not score well in Saturday's testing in such things as flexibility, bench press and vertical and standing jumps, with most scores in the bottom third among players at their position. Sunday was better, however. Chapdelaine caught the ball well, Prinsen had the second-fastest 40-yard sprint among offensive linemen and Miniaci competed well in the one-on-one drills, even though by that time he'd injured his right knee.
"I did OK," Prinsen said. "I knew, coming in, the bench press wasn't going to be my strong suit. I didn't do as well as I thought I was going to do but that said, it is what it is.
"The jumping and the 40 and the more athletic type events, I did where I thought I would be. I had two personal bests in the jumping. One-on-one's went OK. I didn't dominate but I think I showed my technique. Coaches - well, they want to see that, but they'd rather see you dominate.
"The weaknesses that I have are still evident. I have a lot of work to do and I know that. I for sure know my weaknesses. I'm pretty self-aware, but Coach Sheahan makes me aware of them, too."
Miniaci said he came to the Combine hoping to show he deserved to be included in "a star-studded defensive line class."
"I've always been told what matters most is what happens when the pads are on," he said. "I just hoped to show - that I could keep up with the top guys. Even with my knee problem I think I did that.
"I think I did my best when it came to football-specific drills, which I'm really happy with."
For Prinsen, the Combine was about more than performing on the field.
"I wanted to get personal bests in all the testing," he said, "but more important than that I wanted to showcase my personality in the interviews. I think they saw that. I think they went pretty well.
"They'll ask you what are your strengths and weaknesses. Most teams, we were on the same page. They seemed happy to see that I knew where my weaknesses are, that I know where I need to improve."
Miniaci and Prinsen agreed that the weekend was a terrific experience.
"It was a lot of fun," Prinsen said. "When (I was) younger I played Grenadiers and played Team Ontario for a few years and then there are recruiting camps for university, and at all these different stages you're seeing the same guys.
"It's fun to see the guys we've grown up with. We might not see each other for a few months but we've known each other since Grade 10 and they're good guys. It's fun being around them."
For Miniaci it was simpler than that.
"A whole weekend devoted to football? What more can you ask for?" he said. "It's a dream come true, talking to guys in person you just watch on TV or only see at the Rogers Centre. It's a really cool experience."
Both players have pro football aspirations but, Queen's guys being Queen's guys, for neither does it seem to be the be-all and end-all.
" I mean, you're getting paid to play a game. It doesn't get much better than that," Prinsen said. "I'd like to play (in the CFL), whether that's for one year, two years, three years, eight years, whatever happens if I'm lucky enough to get a shot and lucky enough to stick, but that's for the future. I can't really control that."
If that professional football ultimately doesn't beckon, Prinsen will take the mining engineering degree he'll receive this spring and carry on with his life.
"Regardless of what happens I'm not too worried," he said. "I'll be successful. I'm pretty relaxed about it."
Miniaci said he "definitely" wants to give pro football a whirl.
"Growing up you always look forward to that," he said. "At the same time I want to focus on school first. I don't want to waste my parents' money, right? But certainly pro aspirations are there."
Chances are, though, Miniaci will be back for a fifth year at Queen's in the fall.
"I'm the youngest guy here (among defensive linemen)," he said, "so talking to teams, (they seem to think) one more year of maturity and development in the CIS would be good for me."
First, however, he'll have to take care of the torn meniscus on his right knee that's plagued him since the middle of the 2011 intercollegiate season.
"Through my own fault I just haven't let it heal," he said. "I got surgery late, I hurt it again in the East-West game (last spring) and hurt it again near the end of the season. With the new turf (at the Varsity Centre), it was a little bit slick and I gave it a couple of tweaks today."
The next few weeks will require rest and physiotherapy, Miniaci said. "It's got to heal on its own."
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