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Whirlwind off-season continues for Regina Rams DL Charles

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Associated Press
4/10/2013 6:10:59 PM
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Stefan Charles' whirlwind off-season has seen him work out before pro scouts in Tampa, Toronto and Texas. Now the Regina Rams defensive lineman will visit the Seattle Seahawks before meeting with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday.

Such is life for a budding professional football player.

The six-foot-five, 324-pound Charles was in Seattle on Wednesday for two days of meetings. Charles' sitdown with the Colts will be his second with them in just over a week. He spoke with Indianapolis officials during the NFL Super Regional combine at Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Tex., on Sunday and Monday.

Charles and McMaster Marauders defensive end Ben D'Aguilar were among 219 selected to strut their stuff in Texas from the nine previous regional events. While there, Charles met with the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Colts.

This after entertaining previous inquiries from the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. Charles also spoke with CFL coaches and GMs last month during the league's combine in Toronto.

"It's been a whirlwind but he's a pretty level-headed guy," said Darren Gill, Charles' Montreal-based agent. "From the start we knew what the objective was, which was certainly the NFL and more importantly getting drafted and we're working towards that."

The goal is to impress pro scouts and secure an opportunity to earn a living playing football wearing their colours, be it in Canada or the U.S. The NFL conducts its draft April 25-27 while CFL teams make their picks May 6.

But the real fun begins after Charles learns where he'll play next. That's when he'll not only have to memorize a thick playbook full of detailed schemes but also show he can apply it on the practice field against older, more experienced players.

However, that's something Charles is looking forward to.

"His objective is to be in an NFL training camp and at this point we're pretty optimistic that will happen, be it through the draft or as a free agent," Gill said. "As much as he loves going through the combine process and the testing and interviews, he just wants to play football.

"He's eagerly awaiting the day when he gets to put the pads on again and play some real football."

Charles, 24, from Oshawa, Ont., has impressed pro officials with his explosiveness and athleticism. He posted an impressive 37-inch vertical jump at last month's CFL combine, two weeks after a 34-inch leap at an NFL regional event in Tampa.

Charles was very dominant in the one-on-one drills in Toronto, solidifying his status as a potential first overall CFL pick should he not sign an NFL deal.

But before committing to rookies, pro teams want to meet them and ask sometimes personal questions, a process that can sometimes be unnerving for the player.

Charles knows this all too well.

Last month in Toronto he met with Edmonton Eskimos representatives, a portion of the 15-minute interview currently being featured on the CFL's website.

During the sitdown, Charles appears to become a little agitated while explaining how he held down jobs to pay his expenses and support his young daughter while playing junior football in B.C. and at Regina.

"I paid for my own rent, I paid for everything," Charles says. "I was sleeping on the floor my first two years at U of R, you understand?

"Now, I've got a little opportunity here and I'm going to make the most of it, be it here or in the NFL. Whatever team I end up going to, they're going to get a player. That's what it is."

An unidentified Eskimos official then asks Charles if he's upset, to which the player responds he's fine. Edmonton GM Ed Hervey -- a former all-star receiver with the club -- then explained to Charles why personal questions were asked.

"Your resume on film is what it is but the 15 minutes we get, we will push the buttons a little bit because we want to know what type of person you are," Hervey said. "You've shown us today not only are you a blue-collar person but you have a drive.

"Every team in the CFL is going to want to know (who) is Stefan Charles, what's on his mind. NFL or CFL? And you have a chance to be the No. 1 player picked. I don't know where you're going to fall but you're going to definitely go in the first round and teams want to know, and we want to know."

Charles hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Rams teammate Akiem Hicks. Hicks was selected in the third round of last year's NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Charles amassed 50.5 tackles and 9.5 sacks over three seasons at Regina, where he was a Canada West all-star and first-team CIS All-Canadian in 2011. Not bad, considering Charles was a basketball player entering high school before becoming interested in football.

NFL scouts have projected Charles as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment. He began the 2012 season ranked as the top CFL draft prospect by the league's scouting bureau but ended the year at No. 4 after missing four games with a hand injury.

Charles registered eight tackles and two sacks in four regular-season contests before adding six tackles and a sack in two playoff games.

NFL Footballs (Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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