B.C. Lions like another V.I. Raider

Whitman Tomusiak has been invited to B.C. Lions rookie camp after impressing the CFL club at evaluation camp testing in April.

V.I. Raiders receiver Whitman Tomusiak

V.I. Raiders receiver Whitman Tomusiak

Junior football defenders just can’t cover Whitman Tomusiak. Now he’ll be going up against pro prospects.

The V.I. Raiders receiver was invited to B.C. Lions rookie camp after impressing the CFL club at evaluation camp testing in April.

“I didn’t really expect to go this year, no, but this whole off-season I’ve heard some rumours,” said Tomusiak.

The Football Nanaimo alumnus led the entire Canadian Junior Football League in receiving yards last season with 919 and was chosen as an All-Canadian.

At the Lions’ E-camp he ran a 40-yard (36-metre) dash in 4.49 seconds, which was the fastest of the 18 players at the camp.

That “blazing” time, combined with his “impressive football resume,” earned the 21-year-old from Mill Bay an invite to rookie camp, according to a B.C. Lions press release.

The E-camp was mostly about testing athletic ability, not so much specific football skills. So even though the Lions have seen the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder’s speed, they aren’t as familiar with his best attributes as a receiver – his hands, and his desire to win every ball.

“Hopefully [I’ll] turn some heads some more when they actually see me play,” Tomusiak said. “But the main thing, of course, is to go in, do your best and you’ll sort of see where you stand pretty quick.

“Hopefully it will help me get a lot better. I think the best way to become a better player is to go against guys who are better than you.”

But he might be starting to realize that he belongs with those guys. Raiders coach Matthew (Snoop) Blokker was asked if the experience of a CFL camp might be good for boosting the confidence of a humble player like Tomusiak.

“That’s where people read him wrong. I think his outside demeanour is one thing, but I think his inner demeanour is another,” Blokker said. “He’s extremely confident in his abilities and he’s not shy of any challenge.”

The past few weeks, said Tomusiak, have indeed made him view his football future a little differently, but he isn’t looking too far ahead.

“We’ll see how it goes when I get there, of course,” he said. “But yeah, [I’ll] just try to take it as far as I can take it.”

The Raiders will look on proudly. Their record-setting quarterback alumnus Jordan Yantz will be at rookie camp, too, and another alum, Andrew Harris, is a Lions star. Tomusiak could be embarking on a similar sort of path.

“He’s rounding into a top receiver and I think this is one guy the Lions might end up, down the road, keeping,” Blokker said.

GRID BITS … Steven Doege, Steven Shott and Bobby Davis of the Okanagan Sun and Spencer Lang of the Langley Rams will also be at Lions rookie camp.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com