All that and a box of doughnuts in the combine interview room

There is one team at the CFL combine asking interesting questions by the baker’s dozen.

The combine is an opportunity for the best Canadian collegiate football players to strut their stuff for scouts, coaches, and personnel guys from around the league.

Arguably the most important part of the combine evaluation process is the interviews teams conduct with players. These interviews allow teams to get to know players on a personal level — drills, testing, and film are useful tools for evaluation, but fail to address the prospects’ key personality traits. Is the player intelligent? Does he seem like a good teammate? Does he like to watch film? These are questions the interview process can help answer.

Many of the interviews are low-key — teams only have thirteen minutes with each player, so the questions are formulaic and fast-paced. There are times, however, when questions are too quirky to glaze over.

“There was a team that had a box of doughnuts, opened it up and asked which doughnut you’d pick,” said Dakoda Shepley, currently the eleventh-ranked player in the CFL scouting bureau rankings. “They said, ‘which one do you relate with the most?’ and I said, ‘old fashioned plain because I just ate one.'”

When asked if pounding doughnuts the night before running the 40-yard dash would be potentially problematic, Shepley laughed. “No, it’s encouraged.”

Another prospect revealed which team was asking the existential doughnut question.

“It was Ottawa,” said Simon Fraser receiver Justin Buren. “They presented me with three doughnuts and asked me which doughnut do I feel like I was. It definitely threw me for a spin there.

“I answered the Long John because it was the only one that wasn’t circular. It kind of stood out and it stood on its own. I also like Long Johns.”

Interviews can be nerve-wracking for players — prospects come to the combine with varying degrees of interview experience, including some with none — so getting a free doughnut had to sweeten the experience. Some may not consider doughnuts to be as appealing as Grey Goose and chicken wings, but that’s evidently how the Redblacks roll.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.