All six-foot-four, 300-plus pounds of Jeremy Zver is about to go shooting up CFL draft boards like wheat sprouting out of prairie soil.
After playing basketball all the way through high school and two years of football at Balfour Collegiate, the Regina-born and raised offensive lineman was recruited as a basketball player by the University of Regina. Once on campus, he played two seasons for hoops head coach Steve Burrows, but it was football bench boss Frank McCrystal who was bugging Zver to come and give university football a try.
“In third-year, after Frank’s continuous hounding, I decided to give it a shot.”
Zver earned the starting left tackle job out of training camp in 2013 and manned that spot for all eight games and the same for 2014. He started just one game in 2015 due to injury, which meant no USports East West Bowl and led to him being under the radar in terms of draft prospects. Healthy for the 2016 campaign, Zver earned Can West all-star honours at left tackle while protecting the blindside of Hec Crighton Trophy winner Noah Picton, who set a new single-season Canadian university record with 3,186 passing yards. That was the first year under head coach Steve Bryce.
“One of my first memories of Jeremy, at one of our 6 a.m. workouts, the whole weight room stopped when we heard this banging,” Bryce says. “He was deadlifting 500 pounds and he did a set of 10 like it was nothing. He stopped and wondered why everyone was looking at him because he didn’t think it was much. He thought it was only 410 pounds but he miscounted and it was 500.”
Pure strength, explosiveness and athleticism required to pull off that lift are some of the reasons why CFL talent evaluators are really intrigued by Zver.
“He looks raw, but with potential big upside due to his size and athleticism,” one scouts says.
“Definitely a prospect who will shoot up the board. Teams will look at him and believe he’s a tackle,” adds another.
Lots of the athleticism comes from Zver’s time on the court. In 74 games played for the Cougars basketball team the power forward averaged 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting over 52 percent from the field. 2013-2014 proved to be Zver’s best on the hard court when he posted eight points per game and 4.6 rebounds.
(Credit: Rob Weitzel Graphic Productions)
“Jeremy saw that his skillset and toolbox lent itself more to earning a career in pro football. If you’re an outstanding basketball player there is no Canadian NBA,” Bryce says.
“A couple scouts came and talked to Coach Bryce about me. That really got me thinking that I should take football more seriously and I decided not to play basketball, which was the best decision. It gave me a full off-season to train and get ready for football,” Zver says. “Realizing I could be a professional athlete changed my mindset.”
While preparing for the CFL combine, Zver has been training with Rams alum Brett Jones, who is with the New York Giants, and current Rider Dan Clark.
“Of course there is competition. Brett is the strongest in the weight room between the three of us – that guy is a truck,” Zver says. “I keep in touch with Brett and see him whenever he’s in town. This past off-season I was working out a lot with Dan. Dan and Brett help me with my stance, punch and being more fundamentally sound.”
Zver will interview with every team except for BC and Saskatchewan, but he gets to perform for CFL scouts in his hometown.