TORONTO - He took the long way there, but Scott Macdonell wants to prove he belongs at the CFL combine.
The Queen's receiver wasn't originally invited to this weekend's audition before CFL coaches and GMs. He was added only after competing at a regional event Thursday in Toronto, the last of three held across Canada.
"It's nice to be here with the top 51 individuals . . . but I want to show even though I might've taken a different path here it doesn't mean I'm second to a lot of these guys," Macdonell said. "I know there's a lot of hype around the top-15 (CFL scouting bureau's top prospects list) but I feel I can add just as much value to any team, if not more, than they can."
The six-foot-five, 230-pound Montreal native didn't have time to celebrate his invitation. He took his medical Friday afternoon and was scheduled to participate in the first round of testing — including the bench press, vertical and long jumps — on Saturday.
Players will run the 40-yard dash Sunday, then finish with one-on-one drills in helmets and shoulder pads.
Macdonell, a finance major, had 30 catches for 441 yards and four TDs in seven games last season. On Thursday, he recorded 10 reps in the 225-pound bench press, ran the 40-yard event in 4.768 seconds and recorded leaps of 31.5 inches and nine feet, in the vertical and broad jumps, respectively.
Macdonell isn't bothered by having to do it all over again so quickly. In fact, he believes participating in Thursday's combine gives him an advantage.
"I think having done it once kind of takes the pressure off," he said. "I was pretty pleased with my numbers so now I can go out there and really let it rip."
Twelve of the top-15 prospects for the CFL draft in May will work out, including offensive linemen Pierre Lavertu of Laval (No. 2), David Foucault of Montreal (No. 3) and Matthias Goossen of Simon Fraser (No. 5) and St. Francis receiver Devon Bailey (No. 4). But top-ranked McGill tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif isn't here as he'll hold his pro day next week in Montreal for NFL and CFL officials.
Macdonell sees this as an opportunity for him to fly in under the radar.
"I've always prided myself on coming out from the shadows and being the surprise and delivering," he said. "In fact I'd say there's less pressure because I'm not in the top-15 so when I actually show out, it will be kind of a 'Who's that?' moment.
"I want to show I'm a playmaker. I'm a big, physical guy, probably one of the biggest receivers here so I want to show I can be big, and play big. I can catch the ball very well, I can block and do special teams well because I love playing specials. At the end of the day I want them to think, 'Here's a big kid we can turn into something great.'"
B.C. Lions head coach Mike Benevides says a prospect's performance this weekend could help — or hurt — his draft stock.
"You can't measure heart, you can't measure intent but there are certain things testing reveals," he said. "One is work ethic, you can kind of see where they're at from a development point of view.
"But one of the biggest elements is the interview process. You get to know who they are, how important the game is to them and kind of pick their brain on their football IQ."
However, Benevides said CFL teams also want to see how prospects react when outside their comfort level.
"You can see how confident they are and how they interact in a pressure situation," Benevides said. "We'll put them in a situation where there are five, six people around the table and if they can handle that process and stress, it tells you a little bit about the man."
Ottawa Redblacks scout Miles Gorrell, who played 19 CFL seasons as an offensive lineman, said the combine is the ultimate job interview for prospects.
"It's just like writing an exam," he said. "You don't really want to see what the answer is, you want to see if they follow instructions because football is always about can you read the plays, can you think on your feet . . . can you listen, can you follow directions?
"These kids aren't used to it, they're stressed out to the max. There's not many people relaxed and having fun and enjoying themselves. This is a big deal."
The six-foot-eight Gorrell, a 2013 Canadian Football Hall of Fame indcutee, said the weekend takes its toll on many players.
"There's more kids who probably break it than make it because you're looking for somebody that's a difference-maker," he said. "It's not the first-round kids you're worried about.
"It's like a $20 bottle of wine. Anybody can buy a $20 bottle of wine and it will probably be good. But can you make a $10 bottle of wine be good and can you pick that $10 bottle of wine?"
However, Gorrell said such players do exist, pointing to Montreal offensive Luc Brodeur-Jourdain and former Toronto running back Bryan Crawford as prime examples. Brodeur-Jourdain was drafted last overall in '08 while Crawford went in the fifth round in '05 and played seven solid seasons with the Argonauts before retiring.
"Montreal took a chance on a guy like Luc Brodeur-Jourdain and he's done everything they've asked," Gorrell said. "He's worked himself into a starting position, been an All-Canadian (in 2012) and won the Grey Cup.
"Bryan Crawford was a fifth-round pick but was a great special-teams guy and Grey Cup winner who's now the executive director of the OUA. We've got draft choices out there in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds who stand up and are accounted for."
While sub-par weekend results could hurt a player's draft stock, Benevides said soiled game film could be a prospect's salvation.
"We get very tied into this, it's a big process," Benevides said. "What is critical, though, is letting the emotion settle and going back and watching tape because, ultimately, tape doesn't lie.
"You want to find out exactly why that person didn't perform well. Were they injured, can they not handle stress, have they not been working hard enough? You take all this information back with you and study tape because at the end of it, what you see on tape really matters."