SPORTS

Montreal linebacker Archambault impresses in bench press at CFL combine

03/28/2015 12:24 EDT | Updated 05/28/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Byron Archambault made quite a first impression Saturday at the CFL's national combine.

The linebacker with the Vanier Cup-champion Montreal Carabins opened the two-day camp with 41 reps in the 225-pound bench press. That not only topped the 50-player field, but was the second-most in combine history, behind only the 47 reps Laurier offensive lineman Mike Knill recorded in 2011.

"I was at 48 in my mind, I'm always trying to be the best," Archambault said. "That's how you push yourself, that's how you break limits.

"You have to believe to be able to succeed."

The six-foot, 240-pound Archambault's personal-best is 45 reps but he certainly felt the weight of expectation being under the watchful eye of scouts, coaches and GM representing all nine CFL teams.

"I think the whole atmosphere makes the bar a few pounds heavier than it usually is in the gym in your own backyard," he said. "It definitely takes you out of your comfort zone.

"You have to make sure you perform and that's what I did. I'm happy with 41."

Ottawa defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio finished second with 32 reps, one more than Michigan State running back Matt Rea.

Laurier defensive back Chris Ackie dominated the afternoon session, topping the vertical leap (40 inches) and standing broad jump (10 feet 11.5 inches). Archambault had a 32.5-inch vertical and broad jump of nine feet 3.5 inches.

But the burly linebacker downplayed the significance of his bench result.

"It helps to show how dedicated to training you are and how serious you are in your conditioning and the way you eat," he said. "But it's on the field, it's in those one-on-ones that you really see football is football."

The one-on-one drills — in helmets and shoulder pads — and 40-yard dash at Varsity Stadium on Sunday will highlight the final day of the camp.

And a solid performance this weekend certainly won't hurt Archambault's draft stock. The Montreal native was ranked No. 17 on the CFL scouting bureau's latest top-20 draft prospects list.

"I want to prove I'm an athlete, an overall athlete," he said. "I'm the type of guy that trains and is dedicated and under pressure I don't crack.

"I rise to the challenge."

As impressive as Archambault was in the bench press, Jeremy O'Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders' assistant GM, said that's a small part of a CFL team's overall evaluation of draft prospects.

"Obviously he passes the strength test . . . which shows how seriously he takes the weight room and his seriousness in wanting to be a pro," said O'Day, a former CFL offensive lineman. "But it's just one part of the puzzle that you have to evaluate these guys.

"A big part of the evaluation is the film, regardless of how they test and how strong or fast they are. It has to correlate with what you see on the field. We do a lot of work before this and a lot of work after to make sure we're as prepared as we can be (for CFL draft)."

Archambault had a career-high 49.5 tackles — including 39 assisted — last season. He also recorded nine sacks (second-most in Canadian university football) and was named the Quebec conference's top defensive player and a first-team CIS all-star.

This marks Archambault's second combine this off-season, having participated in an NFL regional event. The 23-year-old says he has long dreamed about a career in professional football.

"Right after my first year playing football when I actually knew there was a professional league and people did that for a living, I felt that was a dream job for me," Archambault said.

And Archambault said the pro team taking a chance on him will be justly rewarded.

"They're going to get a guy who's going to give everything he has to give at any position they ask me to play," he said. "Realistically (as) a linebacker when you're getting to a pro team they're going to ask you to contribute on special teams.

"Once I impress them with my special-teams play during the season and impress my teammates, I'll allow myself to move up."

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