2 - A WIDE RANGE: They came from all over. Big ones, little ones, round ones, chiseled ones, you name it. They came from Southern California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. They paid a nominal fee which, more than anything else, was to prevent hopefuls like 59-year old Charles Chaluda from putting on the cleats. If you're not familiar with that infamous story from a Roughriders open tryout in 2011 in Florida, you can read it here.
3 - RECEIVER U: I watched the tryouts from everywhere, but my preferred spot was on the sidelines amongst the players. My favourite conversation overheard went like this: Receiver 1 "Man if there's 150 players here, 65 of 'em must be receivers". Receiver 2 "Ya. And I checked the team website. Their receivers are all 6'2, 6'3", 6'4. Shoot, they got Duron Carter and he's 6'5"!" It's true. Chris Jones likes skyscrapers and if you're not one, you'd better be extra special.
5 - RELENTLESS: The first two hours of the workout were devoted to metrics, and it resembled a high school track & field meet. At various spots on the field, players were run through broad jump, 40-yard dash, the shuttle drill, etc. The next 3-4 hours were spent running one-on-ones, and they were endless. The large number of players made for thousands of reps, each one tracked meticulously and filmed for dissection on Saturday evening. A local college coach came to watch and quipped, "Now I get it. They're running them into the ground and the last ones standing are the winners!" I said, "Something like that". How could I have forgotten what an unforgiving taskmaster Chris Jones is? Somebody asked a Rider coach how long they'd be out there for. "The sun goes down at 8:00," he deadpanned.
6 - FAMILY AFFAIR: While I didn't see any Rider fans at IMG, several players brought along their families. One Mom introduced herself to just about every staff member, promoting her son's abilities and desire. Another Mom watched the linemen one-on-ones from only 6 feet away, and looked like someone you wouldn't want to mess with. Several players brought their girlfriends, with one even getting a backrub from his partner between sessions. Hmmm!
8 - ARMS RACE: There were a half dozen or so QBs and while some had no troubles adjusting to the CFL football, others never seemed to get a handle on it. Jones was unfazed, yelling to one receiver, "That was a great route! Don't worry where the pass ended up. You ran a great route!" It's clear Chris Jones was respectful of each and every player who paid his fee and wanted to earn a shot.
9 - LINEMEN: There was one behemoth on hand, who measured 6'8", 408 lbs. I wish I caught his name! But to my untrained eye, he was having a tough time staying in front of his opponents. There aren't a ton of spots open on the 2018 Roughriders roster but you know they're keeping an eye out for offensive linemen.