CFL draft profile: receiver Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo

Photo courtesy: Windsor Athletics

Tyler Ternowski

Height: 5’10
Weight: 185
Hometown: Hamilton, Ont.

Twitter: @Tyler_Ternowski

“I was on defence in my first year playing middle linebacker,” said Ternowski. “Ever since then, I’ve played with that same aggression of a linebacker even at receiver.”

Tyler Ternowski started playing hockey and soccer as a young child, though he was often admonished by referees for being too physical. That’s when he started playing football in grade four at the encouragement of his step-father.

Ternowski posted elite production with the University of Waterloo Warriors, catching 169 passes for 3,068 yards and 26 touchdowns. He brings more speed than size — he stands just five-foot-ten and 185 pounds — which is why he physicality comes as a surprise.

“People underestimate the type of player I am because of my size — they think I’m just a finesse player,” Ternowski said.

“I’m not afraid to run through someone or make a block when another receiver might not. I’ll make hits even if the ball’s across the field because I’m always trying to get in my opponent’s head.”

The Hamilton native has spoken with teams across the league over the past month with five showing serious interest. Those five clubs have given Ternowski a sense of how he could be utilized at the professional level.

“It sounds like they’re going to give me a shot at slotback. That seems to be the pattern, anyway,” Ternowski said. “They also wanted to know a lot about me as a person, asking about my family, my struggles and my successes.”

Ternowski may have never had the opportunity to earn a U Sports scholarship had he not made a difficult decision heading into high school.

The first-team All-Canadian grew up in the catchment area for Barton Secondary School, though it lacked a strong reputation in academics and football. Ternowski made the decision to attend Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School instead where he would be more likely to find success.

“It was an eight-kilometre bicycle ride each way,” Ternowski said. “None of my elementary school friends went to MacNab, so I went in blind as a sporty kid from across town.”

Ternowski also acknowledges that he probably wouldn’t have attended an out-of-catchment high school were it not for his mother.

“I have to thank my mom for that decision, too, because I was ready just to go to Barton. She really pushed me and showed me that academics and sports are what’s going to lead me to success in life,” Ternowski said.

The economics major realizes that he’s been fortunate to have the support of his family over the past eight years en route to become a professional athlete. His passion for the game of football is palpable.

“My family and friends have been amazing throughout this entire process. They supported my decision to go to [Sir Allan] MacNab for football and leave Hamilton for university. It’s all love and blessings for those people.”

“Football isn’t a game, it’s a way of life. It’s the ultimate team sport. I think my family and friends understand the love I have for it and the determination I have to succeed at the professional level. I have a lot of gratitude for them.”

Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “That kid will need to pick his spots in our league to avoid getting killed going over the middle, but he’s got good speed and catches everything.”

Projected round: 2-3

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.