Boston College tight end Jake Burt (84) dives into the end zone for a touchdown over Richmond defensive back Daniel Jones (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Boston. The CFL is presenting Burt a new lease on his pro football life. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mary Schwalm

Former Boston College tight end Burt excited to get chance to play football in Canada

Former Boston College tight end Burt excited to get chance to play football in Canada

The CFL is presenting Jake Burt a new lease on his pro football life.

The former Boston College tight end is regarded as one of the top prospects in a wide-open ‘21 CFL draft, which goes Tuesday night. The six-foot-five, 245-pound Burt was a late addition to the draft because, while he grew up in Boston, he was born in Regina and remained there for about four years before relocating with his family.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Burt said during a video conference Monday. “I grew up in Boston, yes, but I was always the outsider from Canada and I always took pride in that.

“I’m from Saskatchewan, that’s where my family is from so there’s a lot of pride in Saskatchewan and the country in general. I know it’s a great country, I’m excited about everything this opportunity brings for me and my entire family.”

Burt appeared in 36 career games at Boston College, registering 23 catches for 307 yards and two touchdowns. After being bypassed in the 2020 NFL draft, Burt signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots, spending the entire season on the practice roster before becoming a free agent this off-season.

Burt’s situation is very similar to that of linebacker Alex Singleton. A native Californian who played collegiately at Montana State, Singleton spent time in 2015 with Seattle, New England and Minnesota before being deemed eligible for the ‘16 CFL draft because his mother was Canadian.

Singleton was taken sixth overall Calgary and quickly blossomed into a CFL star. He was twice a league all-star and in ‘17 was named the league’s top defensive player before helping the Stampeders win the 2018 Grey Cup.

Singleton joined the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 and re-signed with the club in March.

Predictably, Burt said he’s not looking ahead to returning to the NFL.

“Right now, the CFL is the one that’s calling my name and honestly I’m extremely excited to get out there and play,” he said. “I’m 24, I get to go experience a different country and go play football there, play a style I feel fits my style very well.”

Trouble is, CFL teams no longer use dedicated tight ends.

“When your film evaluating players is from the New England Patriots training camp, it gets your attention,” Winnipeg GM Kyle Walters said. “The interesting thing for Jake is the position he played in the U.S. doesn’t really exist in Canada so it’s for CFL teams to get creative and figure out the best way to use him offensively.”

Burt feels he could easily fit in with a CFL offence.

“My speed is my hidden gem here,” he said. “I can run extremely well (4.48 second virtual 40-yard dash), I’ve worked tirelessly on my route running … I got great coaching and went against great competition (with Patriots) and only sharpened my tools more.

“I’d say I could make a big impact as a receiver but I can come in and do H-back (halfback) stuff too. I’m hoping we put a whole new twist on this position as a big receiver who could run like all the other receivers but is big enough to come in and do the other thing.”

Burt added he could even be utilized on specialty plays given he was a high-school quarterback.

However, a bigger story Tuesday will be how many top prospects will be future considerations. Sixteen players on the scouting bureau’s final top-20 list have been selected by/signed NFL contracts, are remaining in school, have transferred to new institutions or are in the process of doing so.

The Canadian Press learned Monday that New Mexico State’s Sage Doxtater, a hulking six-foot-seven, 350-pound offensive lineman from Glencoe, Ont., will return to school this fall. He was ranked No. 8 on the CFL scouting bureau.

That leaves Virginia receiver Terrell Jana (Vancouver, No. 15), Saskatchewan linebacker Nelson Lokombo (Abbotsford, B.C., No. 17), Calgary offensive linemen Logan Bandy (Calgary, No. 18) and Laurier offensive lineman Bruce Bell (Waterloo, Ont., No. 19) as top-20 players who could report to CFL camps immediately.

Another challenge facing CFL general managers is having to evaluate the Canadian university prospects without the benefit of 2020 game film. Schools in Canada did not play football last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then again, neither did the CFL. It had originally planned opening the ‘21 season in June but pushed that back to Aug. 5, pending the novel coronavirus.

“Like everybody this year, you’re going off film,” Walters said. “So the inability to see players on film in 2020 is a challenge.

“We’re going back to 2019 and a lot of the interview process is, ‘What was your bodyweight that we’re watching on fil? What have you been doing for a year? How’s the training going? What are you weighing now?’ It’s a real, real challenge.”

Having to go without football has been difficult for Bell, the lone Ontario university player on the scouting bureau list.

“Everybody had struggles over the last year and football definitely felt them,” he said. “We worked through them the only way we know how, trained and did what we could and just tried to work our hardest.

“I’m confident playing any of the five positions on the O-Line because a lot of the development we do at Laurier. I think I have good athleticism in the box … I feel I’m efficient in my movements, I’m a very technical O-line player. Wherever the coaches think is best for me to play and can use me best in the system I’ll play there for that team.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Football

Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read