Offensive lineman Justin Senior wants to “dominate” at Senior Bowl

Canadian set to shine at Senior Bowl

Justin Senior will begin his off-season audition for NFL employment against pretty stiff competition.

The six-foot-five, 310-pound Mississippi State offensive tackle will participate in the Senior Bowl next week in Mobile, Ala. Senior had originally committed to playing in the East-West Shrine Game, which goes Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., before accepting an invitation last week to the Senior Bowl, the annual showcase event for American college football’s top seniors.

“The East-West Shrine game is a great bowl,” Senior said in a telephone interview. “If I could play in both I would but the Senior Bowl gave me more of an opportunity to train longer and it has a bit more notoriety so I decided to go there.”

Senior and the other invitees arrive in Mobile on Monday and begin practising the following day. Senior will play for the South squad, which will be coached by the Cleveland Browns’ staff, while the Chicago Bears coaches will handle the North team.

The NFL Network and ESPN will both broadcast daily practices with the NFL Network carrying the Jan. 28 game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Senior, a native Jamaican who grew up in Montreal, was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. He received the 2016 Kent Hull Trophy as the state of Mississippi’s top offensive lineman and was named a first-team Southeastern Conference all-star by Pro Football Focus.

Senior was also the CFL scouting bureau’s top-ranked prospect for this year’s draft. But any team taking Senior will likely have to wait because the 22-year-old is projected as a fifth-round NFL selection and could improve his stock with solid off-season performances.

In 2014, McGill tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the top-ranked CFL prospect but went in the sixth round, 200th overall, of the NFL draft to Kansas City. The six-foot-five, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif is now the Chiefs’ starting right guard.

“I’ve been dreaming about (an NFL career) basically my whole life,” Senior said. “But there’s still plenty of work to do . . . it’s just that kind of sport.”

Senior isn’t afraid of a little hard work. He’s spent a lot of time at Mississippi State learning the nuances of offensive-line play in the four-down game while continually having to perform well for a high-profile school playing in a premier conference.

“Always learning something new is a lot more fun,” he said. “I’m constantly striving to improve in every part of my game.

“I don’t really think I’m at the level where I could start saying I’m an expert in anything.”

Senior has a definite goal in mind at the Senior Bowl and isn’t fazed by the prospect of being under a microscope before pro scouts, GMs and coaches.

“I just want to dominate at the Senior Bowl,” he said. “I definitely want to put on my best performance, play my best football and I want them to be impressed.

“This is what you play football for, these games. It’s an honour.”

The Bulldogs’ program gained much national notoriety this season thanks to former quarterback Dak Prescott. The 2016 fourth-round pick led the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 regular-season record as a rookie before last weekend’s 34-31 playoff loss to Green Bay.

“What Dak is doing is great, he’s a great player,” Senior said of his former teammate. “But we have a lot of dudes (in NFL) right now who are also good players.

“That definitely creates a lot of expectation. But whether or not there was that tradition, the pressure to perform is always there.”

Despite owning an impressive football resume, Senior wants to show this off-season he’s ready to become a pro.

“I’d like to show my ability and effort to always learn and get better,” he said. “I can bend well and I can run.

“I can’t say I’m the most powerful because I played with people like Gabe Jackson (former Bulldogs offensive lineman now an Oakland Raiders starter). But I’m always chasing it, I’ll always try to be as powerful as him.”

The Senior Bowl kicks off what will be a busy off-season. A solid performance there could earn Senior a spot at next month’s NFL combine to again perform for and meet with league brass.

Mississippi State’s pro day is March 10, another opportunity for its seniors to impress NFL officials. And there’s also the grind of daily workouts, which for Senior begin each morning at 7 a.m. and involve both on-field and classroom sessions, leading up to the draft April 27-29.

“It will be a long process,” Senior said. “But I think I’m prepared.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly spelled Duvernay-Tardif’s last name.

Just Posted

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Stay safe on B.C. roads this holiday season

RCMP warn drivers to plan a safe ride home or suffer the consequences this holiday season

Trudeau apologizes to excluded residential school students

PM makes statement to former students in Nfld who were left out of previous compensation, apology

Most Read