Sports

Former Gees are looking to the pros. Photo: Greg Mason.

Jackson Bennett and Khadim Mbaye look to start pro careers

While the Gee-Gees football season may have ended a while ago, things are just heating up for two of its players. Jackson Bennett and Khadim Mbaye talked to the Fulcrum about their push to go pro, as they attend combines and interview with teams ahead of the CFL and NFL drafts.

First off, the players reflected on their final season wearing the Garnet and Grey.

“I think it was a good year, you know we made the playoffs so that’s a plus,” said Bennett. “We obviously want more, but I think it was a good building opportunity for the younger guys to come in and experience football at this level.”

Mbaye said his highlight of the season was the team’s first game against Guelph, and how the team worked together.

“It was pretty nice to see how the defence played that game, we were all together, all showing up, and we won the game,” he said.

Bennet said that despite a good year, he’s still looking to improve.

“For me I feel like there’s always something to improve; I have that mentality of “good’s never good enough,” So in terms of this season I felt like I did okay, I made plays when we needed it the most, but again, there are things that I still need to work on.”

After the Gee-Gees’ season ended, the players got a break for the holidays, but Bennett and Mbaye wouldn’t be able to take it easy for too long.

“After the season was the holidays, I went to D.C with my girlfriend’s family,” said Mbaye. “Then when I went to come back, I received an email from the CFL saying that I was invited for the CFL regional combine in Montreal.”

After that, he said it was back to the gym.

“As soon as I came back in January, it was straight training. Four gym (sessions) a week, three around track, I did a lot of combine prep, eating well,” said Mbaye.

Things got busy for Bennett as well. He was invited to a showcase in Texas, where he got to play in front of people from both NFL and CFL teams. Bennett said he got to “compete against some American players, and to get some looks from NFL teams.”

“I got to talk to Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Oakland. And Philadelphia is my favorite team, so it was pretty cool to talk to them…  just kind of starstruck, but I felt like I handled the interviews pretty well.”

After a regional CFL combine on March 7, both Mbaye and Bennett are gearing up for the national combine at the end of the month.

“I only have two weeks, I have to be able to rest, be able to still train, but I do have the goal of trying to beat all the results I had,” said Mbaye. “I’m trying to prove that in two weeks I can make a good improvement.”

“I’m feeling pretty good, I’m excited, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to perform in front of so many people and so many big faces and big organizations,” said Bennett. “I think I’ll do very well so, looking forward to hopefully being drafted. It’ll be fun.”

So what happens after the national combine?

“We have to keep training basically because the CFL draft is May 3, so we have to keep training and wait for a phone call, and hope that we get drafted,” said Mbaye.

“Obviously I just want to play football, so whether it be the CFL or the NFL, I’ll be grateful,” said Bennett.