College Gridiron Showcase expanding, adds more North American flavour

The College Gridiron Showcase has grown exponentially.

Craig Redd, a former certified agent, and Jose Jefferson, a former coach and current athletic director, founded the U.S.-based event which began in 2015. The goal: allowing late round and undrafted prospects to be showcased to as many scouts as possible.

“We’re not the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game and we’re not trying to be. They’ve been around a long time, they worry about the first, second, third round picks, that’s not the player who we’re going after,” Redd said. “We’re going after that player who needs some more exposure.”

The first-year goal was a modest ten scouts: instead, 65 scouts from 26 NFL teams and 10 to 15 from six of the nine CFL teams showed up, far exceeding expectations. After running a week of practices in preparation for a game in 2015, the format was changed in 2016 and it has remained the same since. It’s an organized training activity style, meaning individual drills, one-on-ones and team periods.

“The scouts absolutely love it. One scout said after watching the offensive and defensive lineman one-on-ones he was tired,” Redd said with a laugh.

“The periods are 15-20 minutes, that’s a lot of reps these players are getting. Three days of that scouts can really make a good evaluation of players after they take that many reps.”

Year two saw 85 NFL scouts representing 30 of the 32 NFL clubs and 15-20 from seven of nine CFL teams make the trip to Texas. And year three 111 NFL scouts, 32 of 32 NFL teams and the same CFL numbers. Clearly scouts like the format of the event.

And the number of players getting legitimate pro opportunities backs that up. In three years, 273 players have received NFL opportunities, or about 60 per cent of attendees. There are 45 players from the Showcase on NFL rosters, 16 of whom were drafted. All four players from Canada were selected in the CFL draft and 18 players are currently on CFL rosters.

Eight prospects from Canada were invited in 2018 after Canadian company stepped up to sponsor athletes for the week. Kinisi Athletik made sure expenses were lowered for the Canucks in attendance and gave them free undergarments to wear called The Lock.

“If you’re moving it will give you core support. It took us five years to get the patent because we had to prove that it actually had a function, controlling the male anatomy and supported the pelvic floor in a way that no other short can do. Once we got it we knew we had something very special,” Kinisi Athletik CEO Regg Miller said.

“We’ve got sub 10-second sprinters that have lowered their time wearing The Lock by two- and three-tenths of a second.”

It was a natural fit to sponsor the Canadians at The College Gridiron Showcase with Kinisi Athletik being a Canadian company. That went along with Redd’s desire to make the event more international.

“That was a great opportunity to allows us to get some more Canadian players and let them showcase themselves,” Redd said.

That’s exactly why Redd and Jefferson host the event: provide a place where players can get maximum exposure to pro scouts where they wouldn’t have found it otherwise. It is put together each year with catering to scouts, players and agents top of mind. There is a room set aside for players to meet personnel men and educational seminars for players on financial literacy, budgeting and professional development, and, of course, football.

“Because of the type of players we get, the late round NFL guys rounds four through seven and undrafted free agents, that’s where a lot of scouts make their money,” Redd said. “Earning their recognition and finding those diamonds in the rough, late round gems who end up making their roster and contributing to their franchise.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.