Regina-born running back Kyle Borsa naturally grew up a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan, but he’ll get his first chance to play in the CFL with the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Borsa was gathered in the Saskatchewan capital city with his family for the 2021 CFL Draft. The Riders had multiple chances to select the explosive athlete, although it was the Bombers who called his name in the fifth round, 39th overall.
“I am actually most excited to play against the Roughriders in Mosaic Stadium. I’m going to get to look back on my life and reflect on how I got to play football at the highest level — it’s a dream come true,” Borsa said.
“After the combine some people were trying to predict where I would end up, and I was trying not to buy into that too much. After the second round went, then third, then even the fourth round, I was getting a little worried that I wasn’t going to get drafted. That’s when Winnipeg called my name and it was such an emotional moment for my family and I.”
The 23-year-old Borsa was the top-rated U Sports running back in the class. He boosted his stock after putting up impressive numbers at his University of Regina pro day, highlighted by a 4.38 forty-yard dash — the fastest time of all draft prospects. He completed a 6.95-second three-cone time, a 4.19-second shuttle, a broad jump of 10-feet, three inches, a 35-inch vertical, and 22 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.
“It is validating to put in the hard work and have it finally come together in my pro day where I put up impressive numbers. I don’t think people expected me to put up those kinds of numbers,” Borsa said.
“I am an undersized running back from Regina, and I was on a mission to prove people wrong. Having the hard work pay off and some solid feedback with my name attached to it has been amazing.”
Due to the pandemic, the CFL Combine was held virtually. No crowd, no scouts, just the athletes. Performing in front of a crowd myself, I know the rush of adrenaline you get when a crowd is surrounding you on a competition day. I asked Borsa what it was like for him to perform without fans or talent evaluators at his pro day.
“I wanted it to be more official with scouts and players there. I wanted it to be just like when I would watch it on TV; but, obviously, that wasn’t the case and it was out of my control. The only thing I could control is how I reacted to the situation and do what I do best and perform. It was a very cool experience and I was happy with the outcome of the day, but now I can focus on football,” Borsa explained.
“The biggest thing for me before the combine was that I had to change my diet. I had never really been one for eating lots of veggies, as I don’t like them, and I could tell it was holding me back in my training. One of my teammates, Robbie Lowes, helped me out with dialling my nutrition in during the pandemic, as we both were training for the combine. Once I had that element in place, it really upped my game in terms of performance.”
Borsa is a natural athlete, but it was a friend who helped take his speed to another level. That decision ultimately led to him clocking a fast 40-yard time. At the same time catching the attention of scouts and making his pro dream become reality.
“It all started for me in year one of university, one of my past teammates, Atlee Simon, got me to join the University of Regina track team. That was huge because there is no better sprint speed training than joining the track and field team,” Borsa said.
“I remember starting out as a rookie, sprinting a 4.66 40-yard dash. Only two years of working with the team, I improved my 40 time into the 4.4s. There were a lot of strength development components as well and I really leaned out. That’s how I achieved those numbers you saw.”
Borsa played two seasons with the Rams and recorded 122 carries for 683 yards and six touchdowns, along with 21 receptions for 289 yards and one touchdown. On special teams, he also had 46 punts returned for 345 yards and 46 kick-offs returned for 878 yards.
Training for Borsa is now football position specific, before it was sprinting technique and explosive work. He will now be on the field more and in the weight room preparing for the upcoming season that’s been targeted to start in August. Borsa reflects on the time he told his mother at age seven: “I’m going to play in the CFL one day.”
“To finally achieve my dream, despite the adversity I had to overcome, has been such a great feeling. I can’t wait to get there and be in an elite running back room with Andrew Harris, Johnny Augustine and Brady Oliveira. I’m honoured to be able to train alongside those guys,” Borsa said.
Borsa has some last words for other young football athletes looking to follow in his CFL dream footsteps: “this dream is attainable if you work your butt off. I promise you that stuff does not go unnoticed. People would look at me and ask how I got here, I worked hard and stayed the course. Keep pushing for your goals and you can do anything.”