2024 CFL Draft profiles: Memphis LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku ready for pros after top-flight collegiate career

Photo courtesy: Memphis Athletics

Geoffrey Cantin-Arku has come a long way over the past five years, learning a new position and a new language to help achieve his dream of playing professional football.

The 25-year-old played defensive back at Cégep Garneau in his hometown of Quebec City where he spent several games covering fellow draft prospect Kevin Mital, with whom he became teammates at Syracuse University in 2019.

“He’s a great receiver,” Cantin-Arku told 3DownNation via telephone. “I can’t wait to see him at the next level.”

Mital transferred back home to Université Laval after redshirting his first year with the Orange but Cantin-Arku stuck it out despite speaking little English upon his arrival. He played nine games on special teams as a freshman before becoming a starter in 2020 and 2021, recording 107 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles, one pass knockdown, and one fumble recovery.

Cantin-Arku entered the transfer portal following the 2021 season and committed to the University of Memphis after strongly considering Rutgers University. He became an immediate starter for the Tigers despite not being given any assurance from the team before he arrived on campus.

“It’s an open competition and you have to win the job anywhere in the country. There’s no places anymore with all the transfers and everything that are going to promise you a spot and if they do, they are lying to you,” said Cantin-Arku.

“(Starting for the Tigers right away) helped confirm to myself that I am the guy I pretend to be. To be able to see how much trust the coaches in Memphis had in me was great because I had to make the checks and I was pretty much a leader on defence with (fellow senior) Jaylon Allen. We helped lead Memphis to a 10-win season, which was the fifth-best season in Memphis history, so it’s something I’m really proud about.”

The six-foot-three, 230-pound defender ran a 4.85-second forty-yard dash, 6.97-second three-cone drill, and 4.32-second short shuttle at his recent pro day. He also leaped 32 inches in the vertical jump, 119 inches in the broad jump, and performed 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Cantin-Arku indicated that some scouts had his forty-yard dash as fast as 4.62 seconds and his three-cone as low as 6.78 seconds. He believes he’s faster than his numbers indicate, though pro days — unlike the NFL or CFL Combines, which use laser timing systems — rely on hand times, which can be less reliable.

“I’m not a 4.8 guy, I promise you that,” he said. “I know I could have done better but I’m still happy with my results because at the end of the day, the teams still contacted me — CFL and NFL — so I’m still confident. The test results are one thing but my film speaks for itself, so hopefully the teams will see that, too.”

All nine CFL teams have recently been in contact with the defender and he projects as a first-round pick if he doesn’t sign an NFL contract as an undrafted free agent. Though he’s dreamt of playing professionally south of the border for years, he would be content playing up north knowing that he exhausted all possible routes to the NFL.

“I gave it all I had on this side of the border. I’m proud of my NCAA career, I produced way more than many linebackers that were invited to the (NFL) Combine or this and that. I’m happy about myself. I graduated, I learned English. I couldn’t have asked for a better NCAA career,” said Cantin-Arku.

“I’m confident that I will have some calls (from the NFL) for sure whether it’s drafted or undrafted. Every CFL team has contacted me and they’re just waiting to see what the NFL draft is going to look like, so I know I’m gonna play football at the professional level. Is it going to be in Canada or in America? I can’t tell you yet.”

The 2024 NFL Draft is scheduled for Thursday, April 25 to Saturday, April 27, while the 2024 CFL Draft is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.