Bo Adebayo's NFL dream isn't dead just yet.
The six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive end from Western Kentucky has been invited to the Detroit Lions' mini-camp next week. Adebayo hasn't signed with the NFL club but could after the camp and secure an invitation to the main training camp.
Adebayo, an Edmonton native, is the second Canadian-born player to be invited to an NFL mini-camp. Wilfrid Laurier receiver Shamawd Chambers, a native of Markham, Ont., and the third-ranked prospect for Thursday's CFL draft, was invited to next week's Philadelphia Eagles mini-camp with a chance to secure a contract and training camp berth afterwards.
Adebayo's dream at Western Kentucky was to get the chance to play in the NFL but he figured a career south of the border wasn't in the cards after being bypassed in last week's draft and not signing with a club as an undrafted free agent. He had firmly set his sights on the CFL draft, where he was expected to be selected within the opening two rounds.
But receiving the invitation from Detroit certainly has buoyed the 24-year-old's spirits.
"This is where I wanted to be all along," he said Tuesday. "Now that I'm getting this opportunity I don't want to let it go to waste.
"I want to make the most of it, I just want to get noticed out there with effort and doing what I need to do.''
Like Chambers, Adebayo is eligible for the CFL draft and while both players certainly have no guarantees of an NFL contract, their mini-camp invitations could impact their standing Thursday.
And although he'll be putting his CFL dreams on hold, Adebayo said his NFL opportunity doesn't diminish the importance of Thursday's draft in his mind.
"I'm still looking forward to the draft, I'm still excited about it," he said. "But this is a great opportunity I have now.''
Saskatchewan Huskies guard Ben Heenan remains the consensus No. 1 pick Thursday with the Saskatchewan Roughriders continuing to hold the first selection. GM Brendan Taman has spoken to teams interested in making a deal for the top pick, with the persistent talk saying the Edmonton Eskimos — who have the second and sixth selections — were among those clubs.
But on Tuesday, Eskimos GM Eric Tillman reportedly withdrew from consideration for the No. 1 selection. Taman had said his asking price for the top pick was a 2012 first-rounder, a future selection and-or Canadian player.
Up to now, Adebayo figured all his pro football opportunities were entirely in the NFL. It was only during his senior season he learned he could play professionally in Canada, and because he was born in Edmonton could do so as a Canadian.
Adebayo spent his first eight years in Alberta before moving to the U.S, and growing up in Georgia. When he learned about the CFL and being eligible to play there as a Canadian, Adebayo successfully applied to the league for non-import status at this year's draft.
Adebayo's mother was attending nursing school in Edmonton when he was born while his father worked as a university professor. He's the youngest of four boys but the only member of his family to be born in Canada.
And now, at least, Adebayo has options because if the NFL tryout doesn't result in a contract he could still be drafted Thursday and have a future with a CFL club.
"This (Lions camp invite) is another opportunity and just adds to the excitement I was already feeling," Adebayo said. "But I'm just getting started so the more options I have, the better.''
Adebayo was an honourable mention all-Sun Belt Conference player last year after posting career highs in tackles (31), sacks (four) and tackles for a loss (8.5) in nine starts, meaning more than a third of his stops came behind the line of scrimmage. He was granted non-import status too late to be included on the CFL Scouting Bureau's top-15 list.
Adebayo wasn't invited to either the NFL combine or CFL evaluation camp but posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds at Western Kentucky's pro day. He also had a vertical leap of 32 inches and 18 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.
Adebayo has the long arms (33 3/4 inches) many scouts like defensive linemen to have so they can create separation from opposing offensive linemen and dictate the flow up front. Adebayo also has a long reach (78 inches), which can be an asset both against the run and rushing the passer.