March 20, 2024

Corey Mace comes full circle at CFL Combine

Corey Mace is in a different place, career-wise, as he returns to the CFL Combine.

Mace, who is at this week’s Combine in his capacity as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Head Coach, was among the prospects being scrutinized when he was introduced to the pre-Draft event.

“In 2007, I was walking these hallways as a participant, hoping to get a job,” Mace said on Tuesday from Winnipeg. “Now, to be on the flip side of this, it’s a cool aspect.

“With what these participants are going through physically and mentally preparing for this, you understand the situation. It’s really neat to see it from both sides.”

The first time, Mace travelled to Toronto in early March of 2007, having excelled as a defensive tackle with the University of Wyoming Cowboys for the previous two seasons.

“Coming into it as a player, you’ve got your nerves around and you’re walking into some intimidating rooms, so to speak, for the first time with a bunch of coaches and GMs,” he recalled.

“You don’t know what kinds of questions are coming at you, although these guys are trained pretty well these days.

“It’s just a matter of holding the expectations of yourself and physically looking to perform the best. You learn a lot about yourself. A lot of eyes are on you and you’re preparing to be a professional.

“Whether you perform the way you think you should, or you don’t, from event to event, you learn really quickly about yourself from an adversity standpoint. Those are all things you’ve got to look at from a coach’s side.

“It’s pretty cool, because I think it prepares you to understand what it is to be a pro.”

Mace, who is from Port Moody, B.C., was selected by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the second round (11th overall) of the CFL Draft on May 2, 2007.

Shortly before that, he had signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. The 2007 NFL Draft had been held April 28 and 29.

While Mace was with Buffalo (from 2007 to 2009) and leading up to his CFL debut, his rights were dealt from Winnipeg to the Toronto Argonauts to the Calgary Stampeders.

He played in eight games with the Stampeders in 2010, the highlight being a 60-yard fumble-return touchdown against Saskatchewan on Oct. 17, 2010 at historic Mosaic Stadium.

Mace remained on the Stampeders’ roster through the 2015 season, after which he stayed with the organization as the Defensive Line Coach.

Subsequently, he spent two seasons (2022 and 2023) as the Argonauts’ Defensive Co-ordinator before being named the Roughriders’ field boss on Nov. 30.

Now he is looking for another Corey Mace — a Canadian-born player who can start and succeed in the CFL.

“I’ve been to a bunch of these (Combines), but I’m just wearing a bit of a different lens, so to speak,” he said while seated beside Vice-President of Football Operations and General Manager Jeremy O’Day during Tuesday’s interview session. “I’m just seeing the full aspect of all the participants here.

“As J.O. speaks to, having great Canadians on your roster definitely makes you a better team. I just have a broader scope compared to the years past.

“With the preparation and looking at a lot of guys coming into this Draft, we’ve already started that process of looking outside of the defence. I’m intrigued to put a different lens on it.”

Day 1 of the Combine (Wednesday) will consist of medical testing and measurements.

On Thursday, players will undergo on-field testing, such as the 40-yard dash and the bench press.

The final three days will be devoted to practice sessions that include individual drills and one-on-ones. As well, CFL coaches will lead positional groups as offensive and defensive packages are installed.

The Combine is an evaluative tool for the CFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 30. The Global Draft will be held earlier in the day.



The Roughriders are rounding out their quarterbacking stable for training camp.

Returnees Trevor Harris, Mason Fine, Shea Patterson and Antonio Pipkin will be joined by former Notre Dame Fighting Irish standout Jack Coan, whose signing was announced on Friday.

“We saw (Coan) throughout his college career and also at the East-West Shrine Bowl, which is a game we scout every year,” O’Day said.

“We just like everything about him. He’s a cerebral quarterback. He’s got good size. He’s not an overly mobile guy, but he’s able to adjust in the pocket if he needs to, and if he has to run, he’ll run.

“He’s a smart quarterback who had a successful college career. He did go to camp with the (Indianapolis) Colts and we got some good feedback there.

“We’ve been tracking him for a while, trying to get him signed. He was with the XFL for a little bit and he had some NFL interest that he was working through.

“He eventually got to the point where he was just excited about coming to Saskatchewan. We’re interested to see him get in the mix and learn the playbook and the differences in our game.

“We’re just adding another quarterback who was a really successful college player. We’re excited to get him in the mix and see how he does with the guys that we have.”

Rookie camp begins on May 8 at Griffiths Stadium on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Main camp kicks off on May 12.