IOWA CITY — NFL scouts weren’t the only ones eying Faith Ekakitie when the Iowa football program hosted its annual pro day Monday.
Three scouts from Canadian Football League teams were in attendance as well and the Hawkeye defensive lineman was among players they kept a close eye on.
“My thoughts right now are on the NFL, that’s the goal, but the CFL may be an option for me and options are good things,’’ Ekakitie said Monday after his pro day workout.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound native of Brampton, Ontario, positioned himself to have options with his play during his senior season at Iowa.
Seeing the most extensive action of his collegiate career, Ekakitie finished with 39 tackles for the Hawkeyes as a senior, broke up two passes and recorded a pair of quarterback hurries as part of a rotation at defensive tackle.
“I’ve been trying to build off of that,’’ Ekakitie said. “I’m probably in the best shape that I’ve ever been in and right now, it’s all about trying to get somebody to notice.’’
One of the things Ekakitie wants to scouts to notice is an upside to his game.
He grew up playing basketball and didn’t begin playing football until his sophomore year of high school in Canada, eventually transferring to Lake Forest Academy in suburban Chicago where he excelled in both sports and ultimately earned a scholarship offer from Iowa.
“I’m still pretty young in the game,’’ he said. “I haven’t been playing since I was five or six like some guys have. I started playing football my sophomore year in high school, so I know I still have a lot of room to grow. I know there’s still a lot that I haven’t learned about the game that I know I can pick up on pretty quickly in the future.’’
Ekakitie was clocked at 5.05 seconds in the 40-yard dash Monday, did 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and recorded a vertical leap of 28.5 inches as scouts from the Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts and BC Lions looked on.
He hopes that work and any other opportunities he has between now and the April 27 start of the NFL Draft will at least earn him a free-agent opportunity.
If that doesn’t work out, he would have no problem joining a CFL team.
“Honestly, I didn’t follow the game a lot as a kid growing up in Canada, but if the chance were to come along, it would be exciting,’’ Ekakitie said. “There aren’t many places in the world where they are going to pay you to do something you love.’’
Ekakitie was rated as the 11th-best Canadian prospect in the U.S. college game in the CFL’s December scouting bureau rankings.
The CFL requires that half of the spots on the 42-player rosters of its teams be filled by Canadian citizens, something which could benefit Ekakitie in upcoming weeks as CFL teams prepare for the league’s May 7 draft.
“It’s an exciting time, and the plan right now is to keep working to put myself in the best position possible,’’ Ekakitie said. “Keep training, talk with whoever wants to talk with me and see where it all leads. I feel good about what I’ve done and I’m anxious to see where it all leads.’’