Being taken in CFL draft would be redemption for running back Kyle Borsa

University of Regina Rams running back Kyle Borsa carries the ball in this undated handout image. Borsa is eligible for the 2021 CFL draft next Tuesday and hasn’t played football since 2018 due to a positive drug test and COVID-19. (University of Regina/Piper Sports Photography)

Being taken in the 2021 CFL draft would be more than just the realization of a childhood dream for Kyle Borsa.

More importantly, it would serve as a testament to how perseverance can help overcome adversity.

The Regina Rams running back is expected to be an early selection in the draft, which will be held Tuesday night. That would be an impressive accomplishment given Borsa hasn’t played football since 2018.

“It’s going to be a great validation of overcoming things, putting in hard work all the time and never letting off the gas,” Borsa said this week during a video conference. “I can’t even describe it to you, honestly.

“Hearing my name called will be a dream come true.”

The six-foot, 200-pound Borsa, a Regina native, ran for 613 yards on 96 carries (6.4-yard average) and six touchdownsin eight games for the Rams in 2018. Over two seasons, he’d accumulated 2,195 combined yards before a positive drug test in 2019.

To his credit, Borsa is very open about what happened. He purchased a nutritional supplement and because he didn’t check the ingredients was unaware it contained a banned substance, higenamine.

After initially receiving a two-year ban, Borsa’s suspension was reduced to 16 months, forcing him to miss the 2019 season. And last year, no Canadian colleges played football as U Sports cancelled the ’20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Where I made my mistake is I didn’t research what I was putting into my body,” Borsa said. “It was a difficult time for me, I felt like it was a little harsh for what I did but it made me tougher mentally.

“I could strongly say if there were a lot of other guys in my position at that time, they probably would’ve got their degree and kind of moved on with their life. But that’s not the route I chose, I chose to stick with it because football is my dream and passion and I’m happy I did.”

The time away didn’t diminish Borsa’s physical skills. At this month’s virtual CFL national combine, he posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds, 22 reps in the 225-pound bench press and a broad jump of 10-feet, 2 1/8 inches.

“I knew I was going to put up really good numbers,” Borsa said. “I was more upset I didn’t get to do it in front of actual scouts.

“It’s good validation of how much work I put into this, numbers like that don’t really just happen. I did a lot to prepare. I dieted for seven, eight months, I didn’t go out. I worked out like a psycho. It was definitely good validation to show that my hard work paid off.”

Predictably, Borsa and his family are huge Riders fans and he’d readily welcome playing for the hometown club.

“If I could land a spot there and establish myself on a team here, that would be great,” Borsa said. “But at the end of the day, I want to go to a team that’s going to utilize me correctly, use my traits to help them win and help me be successful.

“Wherever that is and whoever plans on doing that, that’s where I want to go.”

Borsa feels his versatility is similar to that of Winnipeg native Nic Demski. While Demski is utilized mostly as a receiver with the Grey Cup-champion Blue Bombers, he can also line up at running back.

“I think I can be one of those players who you can give the ball to different ways and they can make things happen,” Borsa said. “One of those hybrid players who could do both . . . any team that needs a guy with speed and strength and who’s dynamic, I’ll be a fit there.”

And Borsa would be more than willing to cut his teeth in pro football on special teams.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make that (contributing offensively immediately) happen and if that happens, great,” he said. “If I have to play on specials for a year or two and work my way in, I’m good with that too.”

After being away from football for two years, Borsa can’t wait to resume playing.

“It’s going to be almost weird doing those things that used to be normal because that’s just not how we’ve been living the last year,” Borsa said. “There’s nothing like going on to the field and running out of the tunnel with your teammates and best friends.

“There’s no better feeling than scoring a touchdown in crunch time and helping your team win a football game. It’s the most satisfying feeling. I’m excited to get the opportunity to do that again.”

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