Elite Combine Prep brings NFL preparation experience and data-driven approach to CFL prospects

Courtesy: Nicole Smart

In the high-pressure environment of professional football, the path to success often hinges on the smallest details.

That journey demands precision and expertise, which is precisely what Elite Combine Prep (ECP) offers to university players preparing for the CFL Combine. Under the guidance of coaches Joey Nemet, Sam Eyles-Frayne, Trevor Cottrell, and Justin Staffiere, ECP has emerged as a high-end program making its mark since 2020.

ECP has the results to back it up. Since its inception, six athletes have been drafted or signed by CFL teams with three securing positions last year. Notably, ECP helped York University’s Gabriel Appiah-Kubi produce the fastest 40-yard time at the 2023 CFL Combine while consistently boosting athletes to top-five 40-yard dash times.

Gabriel Appiah-Kubi runs 4.44 in the 40-yard dash at the 2023 CFL Combine. Courtesy: Jason Franson/CFL.

The program has seen athletes achieve top results in both the vertical and broad jump, pro agility and L-drill, along with notable performances in bench press reps as two skill players approached the coveted 20-rep mark at last year’s CFL Combine. On average, athletes can expect to drop approximately two-tenths of a second off their 40-yard times from where they start at the beginning of the program. In select cases, ECP has seen some athletes drop almost two-and-a-half to three-tenths.

Along with a meticulously constructed training plan, athletes receive an education in what it takes to be a high-performance athlete. It’s an approach that leverages the extensive experience of ECP’s coaching team, which includes combined decades of experience working with university, professional, and Olympic-level athletes.

Cottrell has spent several years in the United States working with prospects prepping for the NFL Combine. Ultimately, the team aims to ensure there’s a comprehensive 10-week journey each athlete takes to the biggest job interview of their young careers.

Nemet, the lead combine test prep specialist, brings his own personal athletic experience to the mix. He was a university football player at McMaster, finishing second all-time in rushing yards as a running back at the school and winning a Vanier Cup in 2011. Nemet prepped for and went to two regional CFL Combines before heading out west to pursue a career competing on the Canadian bobsleigh team. He was named to the Canadian Olympic team for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

“Training for the tests is different than training for anything else. Some of the tests are like a dance where we literally break them down step by step. We get hyper-specific on the key positions and actions and when they need to occur. A small deviation of even a few degrees can cost tenths of a second,” Nemet said.

A key element of ECP’s process and success is its commitment to data-driven training. Utilizing laser timing gates, video analysis, and force plates, the program collects valuable data on the progression and readiness of athletes throughout the training process. This scientific approach allows coaches to tailor their methods and ensure peak performance at that crucial moment: the CFL Combine.

“Being able to regulate yourself emotionally and psychologically is crucial to being able to execute newly learned and refined skills on combine day. It’s easy to fall back into old habits under stress,” Nemet said.

“We put a ton of work into bridging that gap, simulating the look, structure, and feel of the day as much as possible during sessions. Many of our athletes have come back after the combine and said that it almost felt like another one of our training sessions with some extra bodies, sets of eyes, and higher stakes.”

Eyles-Frayne, ECP’s strength and power specialist, underscores the intensity of the program and the need for meticulous planning to ensure everything works together. She was a U Sports rugby champion and has worked with several Olympians who competed at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics along with being the current coordinator of high-performance strength and conditioning at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“Joey and I communicate daily over the course of the program. We spend a lot of time managing workloads between weight room work, test-specific prep, and football skill work,” Eyles-Frayne said. “The program is intense, and so this level of planning is necessary to minimize injury risk and ensure athletes are at peak performance at the time of the combine.”

The ECP program encompasses various elements designed to mould athletes into well-rounded CFL prospects: biomechanical and functional assessment; test-specific training; video analysis and feedback; mock combine prep; integrated strength training program; football-specific skill prep plus planning; field side therapy; nutrition and body composition guidance and interview prep.

For university players aspiring to leave a mark on the CFL, Elite Combine Prep stands as a standard of excellence, offering a meticulously crafted program and an all-encompassing experience that transcends conventional training methods.

To embark on the journey towards CFL readiness, players can reach out to elitecombinetraining@gmail.com and follow @EliteCombinePrep on Instagram for more information. ECP sets the standard for combine preparation in Canada, guiding the way for the next generation of CFL stars.