April 20, 2020

CFL Draft Memories: Sukh Chungh’s Rise from PoCo to the CFL

On April 30th, 73 players will have their names called during the 2020 CFL Draft. As a result, these young men will realize their childhood dreams of playing professional football. A prime example of this is Lions’ stud guard Sukh Chungh. After starring at the University of Calgary, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers selected Sukh with the second overall pick in the 2015 CFL Draft.

You could make an argument that the draft process officially began at Terry Fox Secondary School for Sukh. During his high school days, the hulking lineman started receiving scholarship offers from schools across Canada and a few prominent universities south of the border.

“Playing professional football was definitely a dream and goal of mine,” said the 28-year-old mauler.

“In high school, I had an official visit to the University of North Carolina and received some offers. I ended up committing to the University of Calgary. During university, I surrounded myself with guys who were older than me who ended up going pro. I was very fortunate to have guys around me that were also going through that process.”

Prior to the start of his senior season, Sukh cemented his status as a top prospect by showcasing his skills in front of CFL scouts at the U Sports East-West Game.

“One year before the draft is the East-West Game,” said the pride of Port Coquitlam, BC.

“It was pretty cool to take part in it. You are playing with some of the best talent in the country. You get to work with top coaches and it’s a great experience. It was awesome.”

CFL Combine

At the conclusion of his career with the University of Calgary Dinos, the time had come for Sukh to begin preparations for the CFL Draft. This phase can be challenging for players to navigate. Potential draftees typically end up hiring an agent and many of them decide to enrol in programs designed to help them excel at the combine.

Sukh Chungh of the BC Lions preparing for the CFL Draft“I was ranked on the CFL scouting bureau and started receiving some interest from agents,” said Sukh.

“We decided to go with an agent who had worked with some University of Calgary players before.”

“I worked a lot with our trainer at the University of Calgary to get ready for the combine. He helped us train for the specific drills you have to do. As an offensive lineman, we aren’t used to running 40 yard dashes and things like that. It was very different from my normal football training, but it was fun to show my athleticism.”

The CFL combine is an important opportunity for prospects to demonstrate their skills in front of general managers, head coaches and scouts. Prospects are put to the test by running forty yard dashes, leaping as far and as high as they can, and bench pressing 225 lbs. as many times as possible. However, the most important events are the individual position drills and the interviews with team executives.

“It was pretty intimidating at times,” said Chungh when asked to describe his combine experience.

“The CFL has a padded aspect to their combine, which I really enjoyed. Putting the pads on and competing is probably the thing I remember most.”

“I was pretty nervous for the interviews. You sit in a room with 12 coaches and it feels like the biggest job interview you could imagine.”

Sukh excelled at the combine, impressing personnel people on the field and in the meeting room. A powerful prospect at 6’4” and tipping the scales at 315 pounds, he entered draft day ranked as the sixth best player in the 2015 CFL Draft.

“You hear the rumors but you never really know what’s going on,” said Sukh on his pre-draft hype. “My agent kept me in the loop pretty well and closer to the day of the draft, I realized that I might have a chance to go pretty high. However, I chose not to pay much attention to that kind of stuff. I focused my attention on my combine prep and also my school work.”

CFL Draft

Long considered a safe bet to develop into an all-pro guard, Sukh didn’t have to wait long on draft night to hear his name called. The Blue Bombers selected Chungh with the second overall pick in the 2015 CFL Draft.

“It was a very proud time and a very cool memory to share with my family,” said Sukh from his home in New Westminster.

“I was at home on draft day and got the call in front of my mom and dad.”

BC Lions' star lineman Sukh Chungh tosses a defender during a game with the Edmonton Eskimos“I remember answering the phone and hearing Kyle Walters on the other end. He handed the phone to Mike O’Shea next. It was an incredible moment for my family and I.”

High expectations are placed on all first round picks entering their rookie season, but going second overall heightens the pressure to perform. In the words of the late, great, Ben Parker, with great power comes great responsibility. Sukh knew going into his first camp that the fans and the Bombers were hoping he would step into the starting lineup immediately.

“Going into my first camp, I felt a little bit of pressure,” said Chungh. “The Bombers invested in me but I didn’t know my role yet. During camp, I remember an injury happened and I was next up. After that, week one came around and I got the start. I ended up playing all 18 games my rookie year and it was great to get that experience.”

“The best advice I can give anyone going into the CFL Draft is to focus on what you can control. Enjoy the moment.”

Brian Helberg: