NFL scouts eyeing Manitoba Bisons football player

The Manitoba Bisons football team could be sending another player to the National Football League with some help from the humble unicycle.

NFL scouts were at the University of Manitoba Thursday checking out the skills of six-foot-six, home-grown Winnipeg offensive lineman, Geoff Gray.

This is the second year in a row scouts from the National Football League have come to Winnipeg to check out a Bison player.

Last year, Bisons defensive lineman David Onyemata was drafted by the New Orleans Saints, making him the first Bison drafted to the NFL.

The University of Manitoba is now the third biggest school in Canada for sending football players to professional leagues, behind Université Laval and the University of Calgary.

Gray, who is also a competitive weightlifter, took part in the usual football drills Thursday, such as the vertical jump and broad jump, along with a somewhat unique feat of balance and co-ordination — riding the unicycle.

The linebacker, who weighs 310 pounds and can bench press 25 reps of 225 pounds, showed off his unicycle skills to make an impression on the scouts in town, he said.

Gray figured it would help grab people's attention.

"Just a little more recognition for your name coming from a small school. It can't hurt," Gray said with a smile. "I can't juggle — that's what's stopping me from the circus."

He said he learned the skill in Grade 9 when he was "a lot thinner."

"I just kind of mentioned it in passing and they thought it would be another thing that would distinguish me from anyone else," said Gray.

After the drills Gray said he thought overall he made a good impression on the scouts.

"They didn't leave halfway through so that has to be a good sign."

His coach, Brian Dobie, said Gray's training and hundreds of hours of hard work has paid off.

"I think he did himself justice, he did himself proud today," said Dobie.

He believes Gray could make it to the NFL.

"He's got a shot," Dobie said. "Some of his numbers ... were through the roof."

As for where Gray will be when the NFL draft picks are announced on April 27, he says he'll be focused on studying for his machine design exam scheduled for the next day.

The 22-year-old is in his final year of mechanical engineering at the University of Manitoba. 

"If I get a phone call it might brighten my day but I still have to do good on that exam," he said.