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International rookies adjusting to CFL game
Published Thursday, May 16, 2019 6:15PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, May 16, 2019 6:33PM CST
The first day of Saskatchewan Roughrider rookie camp is giving fans a better look at some of the players that could break onto the team.
American quarterback Isaac Harker is at the top of that list trying to break into a backup position for the riders.
"The only thing I know is I’m going to work as hard as I can with whatever role they give me. Whether that be holding the kicks or running down the kicks, whatever. I know I can help the team when it comes to my work ethic and everything. So I’ll just try and be the best player I can be,” rookie quarterback Isaac Harker said.
Harker spent the last season at the Colorado School of Mines completing 280 of 421 passes for 3,858 yards in 12 games. The 23-year-old led all division two NCAA quarterbacks with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, but says the CFL field is noticeably different.
“You kind of have to put a little more umph into some throws that you typically wouldn’t think you’d have to step into,” Harker said.
Growing up in Indiana, Harker saw a lot of NFL quarterback Drew Brees at Purdue University, and says he styles his game after Brees, focusing on precision and preparation. Harker adds Doug Flutie has been another example to follow
"He's been one of the guys I’ve really looked up to as well, just because I’m exactly the biggest strongest quarter back around,” Harker said.
Thursday's rookie camp was also the first chance to see players from outside Canada and the USA at Mosaic.
Receiver Max Zimmermann from Germany started playing in 2013, after seeing videos of the sport online. Zimmerman says he’s already noticed the difference between North American and European football.
"It's more tempo, more speed, and I think the biggest difference is that really everyone on this team and everyone here is a true professional,” Zimmermann said.
Zimmermann says he’s dedicated to the sport, and even quit his teaching job to pursue a career in football
"Of course this is my dream job,” Zimmermann said.
All three pickups from the CFL draft with Mexico’s pro football league were also on the field.
"There’s more technique here than in Mexico. There's more coaching. They coach you very little details about techniques, so that's the main difference,” offensive lineman from Mexico Rene Brassea said.
"The nice thing is at times I wasn't sure who was who. So I thought they fit in fairly well. They didn't stand out where we knew who the global players were on every rep,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said.