Scouts and coaches from 20 NFL teams were in Winnipeg today to check out a local football player.
They all came to see David Onyemata, who plays for the University of Manitoba Bisons.
The 23-year-old defensive lineman is expected to be the first Manitoban ever drafted by an NFL team.
Onyemata ran drills and lifted weights under the scrutiny of the NFLers, media and other local athletes.
"It wouldn't just mean something to me. It would mean something to the whole program, to the whole of Canada I would say," said Onyemata. "It would be really huge for myself and everyone around me."
Bison coach Brian Dobie said the NFL turnout is unprecedented in the province.
"What 18, 20 NFL scouts came up here with their passports — tough connections, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for one football player? I think that says something about David Onyemata," said Dobie.
"I've spent a good part of today immersed in NFL scouts and coaches and everybody seems to say the same thing. His numbers throughout the day have been crazy."
Dobie said he thinks Onyemata put himself in a good position, and each team will have to determine how he fits.
'I didn't see this coming'
Four years ago, Onyemata approached the coach. Onyemata said at that point, he wasn't considering pro-football at all.
"I think I took a huge step today just showing the scouts the kind of athlete I am," he said. "I got really good feedback. The turnout itself is really – I didn't see this coming,"
Manitoban Izzie Idonije was signed by Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent, but the expectation is Onyemata will be drafted.
Both Idonije and Onyemata were born in Nigeria, and Onyemata hadn't played football prior to joining the Bisons.
The NFL draft is scheduled for late April.