Their shots at being drafted by National Football League went by the wayside, but the opportunity to display their wares south of the border is not only real, but happening, for a pair of Victoria athletes.
Linebacker Terrell Davis (a former high school star at Mount Douglas) and kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk (previously with the Westshore Rebels) are heading to New York Giants’ mini-camp along with Vanier Cup-champion UBC Thunderbirds’ teammate Taylor Loffler.
The news came Sunday for Davis and Monday morning for Van Gylswyk, a Spectrum grad.
They will travel east on Thursday and participate in camp at East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“Oh man, I’m super excited about it,” said Davis, a 22-year-old, six-foot, 225-pounder. “My agent [Rob Fry] called me up and said, ‘Would you like to go to New York?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, definitely. Let’s do this.’ It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Davis had discussed the scenario previously, realizing the NFL draft was a long-shot, but opportunities for CIS players usually follow the draft, which was completed over the weekend.
It’s now become a pinch yourself moment for the locals.
“That’s exactly how it feels,” said Davis. “I was hoping this would happen, but I was trying to be realistic, that maybe I wouldn’t get a shot. When I found out, I was so excited I didn’t have any words.”
Davis and Van Gylswyk had talked to several NFL teams recently, including Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Both are also expected to be selected in the Canadian Football League draft a week from today and are ranked as the No. 4 and 5 prospects in the Canada West.
“I just want a shot to play professional football, it doesn’t matter where,” said Davis. “I’m excited about being drafted and, hopefully, I can land a spot this summer.”
Following this three-day Giants’ mini-camp, the locals could be signed and invited back or let go, which affects where they are selected in the CFL draft.
“The last couple of years, a lot of CIS players have got their shots at mini-camp, so it just shows the CIS is an up-and-coming league and has a lot of good players out there,” said Davis. “I think I’ll definitely be a little nervous, but this is something I’ve worked towards my whole life, so I’m going to take advantage of my opportunity.”
Davis and Van Gylswyk also both worked out for the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders at UBC last month.
According to UBC and CIS records, only two T-Birds have ever suited up in the NFL. One was offensive lineman Bill Crawford, who coincidentally played for the Giants in the 1960 season. Wide receiver Brant Bengen suited up for the Seahawks in 1987.
UBC head coach Blake Nill said it will not be long before CIS players making the NFL becomes more common.
“Both the coaching and the science of conditioning have improved so drastically in Canada over recent years. What you’re getting are athletes with the ability to compete with their NCAA counterparts,” he said.
Van Gylswyk is coming off a strong final year of CIS eligibility and kicked the last-second field goal that led the T-Birds to the Vanier Cup title over the Montreal Carabins.
Photo: UBC Thunderbirds Mitch Barnett kisses the Vanier Cup as teammate Terrell Davis holds the cup after defeating the University of Montreal Montreal Carabins last fall. Davis is heading to the New York Giants' mini-camp. Photograph By RICH LAM