At six foot five and 262 pounds, Lake Korte-Moore definitely stands out in a crowd.
So it's no surprise the University of British Columbia defensive lineman is the centre of attention at the CFL combine in Edmonton. But Korte-Moore entered the individual testing Thursday with the added burden of being the top-ranked player in the field of 67 Canadians auditioning before league officials.
"I feel like maybe a few years ago it would've hit me hard," Korte-Moore said. "But there's one thing I've learned in my life and that's there's nothing you can do about the past.
"It's all about looking and moving forward. If something goes bad, I'm just going to work my butt off to do much better and show my abilities. If teams like what they see, then they do. I'm just going to be myself and play how I can."
The Ottawa native registered 48 tackles (26 solo, 12.5 for loss), six sacks and a forced fumble in 10 games last season. He was a Canada West all-star and the top U Sports player (No. 10) on CFL scouting bureau's winter list of the top-20 prospects for the May 2 draft.
The nine players ahead of him — all in the NCAA ranks — aren't in Edmonton.
"I was very thankful to see that ranking and that other coaches and GMs thought of me so highly," Korte-Moore said. "But I didn't take it and then go running around saying, 'Oh, I'm the top U Sports player,' I took it and realized I still had a lot of work to do.
"There are nine guys ahead of me who played Division 1 football … obviously I played at a U Sports school but I feel like there's a lot of talent up here and I'm capable of doing what they did. I'm going to work, no matter what, to show that and be the best version of myself."
Vince Magri, the Toronto Argonauts assistant GM, said there's plenty to like about Korte-Moore.
"The first thing that definitely jumps out at you, obviously, is his size," Magri said. "He's already got a pro-type CFL body but not just that, there's the physicality he plays with (and) he's got a high motor.
"Those traits alone should allow him to be competitive in the CFL early and if you're competitive early, that's going to keep you on the roster and keep your developmental curve going while you continue to bloom and blossom. We think he's going to have a bright future in this league."
Korte-Moore appeared in 34 career games at UBC, registering 110 tackles (63 solo. 23 for a loss) with 10 sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
On Friday, Korte-Moore and the other prospects will participate in the first of three straight practice days. It's a revamped format for the event, which was formerly held over three days and featured just one day of on-field competition.
CFL coaches will lead positional groups during the practices and also install offences and defences.
The extra practices can both be a boon and a curse. While there will be more opportunities to shine, there'll also be plenty of chances for prospects to struggle.
Korte-Moore is taking a philosophical approach, though. He says the additional workouts give prospects ample chances to rebound from bad sessions as well as to string together solid efforts and show the pro scouts consistency.
"(CFL officials) also have the film on me and can see what I've done during the season," Korte-Moore said. "This is just another step that we prospects have to go through … it's kind of the next step in the process of the (job) interview."
There's no doubt in Korte-Moore's mind his time at UBC under head coach Blake Nill and his staff has prepared him well for pro football. Korte-Moore said the instruction and guidance he received from defensive co-ordinator Pat Tracey and defensive-line coach Shomari Williams (first player taken in '10 CFL draft) was invaluable, as well were the lessons he learned from current McMaster head coach Stefan Ptasek, who served as the Thunderbirds' offensive co-ordinator in 2018.
"Coach Nill just has the pedigree of being that amazing coach in U Sports but he surrounds himself with so many amazing coaches and has helped build kids into men," Korte-Moore said. "He's really shaped me into the man I am, on and off the field but I'd definitely say he has shaped our team to be a lot of amazing men as well as amazing football players."
As for the CFL draft, Korte-Moore doesn't really have a particular team he'd like to join. More important is the opportunity to play football professionally.
"All I want is a program or team that wants me and will give me that chance," he said. "I've been working my whole life for this,
"Since I first put on the pads, I've tried to learn something new every day."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press