Canadian receiver Rysen John trying to live up to namesake Andre Rison in pro football

Photo courtesy: SFU Athletics

Canadian receiver Rysen John is striving to live up to his namesake.

His parents named him after prolific NFL receiver Andre Rison while putting their own style on the spelling. Rison scored a 54-yard touchdown in the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XXXI victory over the New England Patriots and it spurred a first name.

“She named me after a football player, go figure,” John said on the 3DownNation podcast.

John has seven inches on Rison, six-foot-seven to six-foot even, but he’d like to produce a pro resume similar to the retired productive pass catcher. The Vancouver native has garnered interest from scouts on both sides of the border after grabbing 53 passes for 861 yards and 10 touchdowns during his senior season at Simon Fraser University.

Former SFU head coach Thomas Ford field calls from Seattle, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Miami, Indianapolis, and both New York franchises. The College Gridiron Showcase and Hula Bowl talent evaluators took notice and invited John to play at their events.

It was the first Hula Bowl since 2008 and John was the only Canadian who made the trip to Hawaii. Former NFL head coaches, Rex Ryan and Mike Smith were the head coaches. NFL scouts are intrigued by his combination of size and skill playing tight end.

“I told a whole bunch of NFL teams that I was doing interviews with, they asked me are you willing to take reps as a tight end? I said, ‘hell yeah I’ll do some tight end reps.’ At the same time, I’ll run routes and catch balls too. Playing tight end would make me more of a dangerous weapon,” John said.

“Playing in the trenches was a little different, but I felt more involved in the game. I felt really confident in my blocking, they were all strong but I was just as strong as them. I like to be versatile that way.”

It was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, John was scheduled to have a pro day at SFU March 29. The Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts were trying to travel to Burnaby and take it in live. Regardless, NFL and CFL adapted and told players to video tape their own testing drills and workouts to send out.

“Scouts are intrigued with Rysen’s size, ball skills, and compete level. He’s one of those Canadian prospects that don’t come around often in terms of having a high ceiling,” agent Rob Fry said.

“I can see him really thriving at the next level if he’s provided an opportunity to continue developing at the tight end position. There’s a lot of untapped potential there to be excited about.”

Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss and Terrell Owen are receivers John looked up to while developing as a football player. Ever since tight end has been a possibility, John has been watching and learning from tape of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle. John called them all ‘physical freaks’ and feels ready for the chance to prove himself at the pro level.

“I’m just trying to compete in that realm right now,” John said. “I’m just ready for the opportunity to play.”

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