Andrew R. Goetz
HSU – Former Humboldt State running back Blair Zerr was selected by the Edmonton Eskimos with the 65th overall pick of the Canadian Football League Draft Thursday night, May 3.
Zerr, who played for the Lumberjacks from 2014-16, was working out when he got the call.
"That night I was at the gym and I was looking at the eighth round and it popped up on the screen," explained Zerr. "My phone rang right there and it was Edmonton. They asked if I was healthy, all in and ready to go. They said they would give me a call if everything goes OK as far as the next couple picks go, and they did. They called and congratulated me and I talked to the coaches and GM."
Thursday's pick wasn't a surprise for Zerr who recently became a naturalized Canadian citizen. The Morgan Hill, Calif., native began the naturalization process after leaving HSU with an eye on a spot in the CFL. Darren Arbet, an assistant coach with the Jacks in 2016, helped fuel Zerr's drive to chase his professional dream north of the border.
"To hear it out of one of my coaches mouths that they thought I would be good at that, it was a little inspiring," Zerr said. "It was something that stuck with me while I was going through this process."
Zerr didn't need much inspiration as his father, Blair Zerr Sr., spent time with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders (1992-94) that resulted in a Grey Cup title.
"He played a lot of football in his day," Zerr said. "He played at San Jose State and for Calgary, and they won the Grey Cup, and so he always has told me to stay steady. I have a lot going on right now, but I've always been able to stay focused to just keep an eye on the end goal."
The CFL Draft is similar to the NFL Draft with teams picking in a reverse order based on record with the last pick going to the Grey Cup Champion. Because Zerr has Canadian citizenship and he declared himself for the draft, he was eligible to be selected by any of the nine CFL clubs.
The road to draft night has been anything but glamorous as Zerr worked out at a local high school or at a friend's gym since leaving the North Coast. When he wasn't working out, Zerr has been using the EMT skills he learned while working in an ambulance.
Zerr traveled to a pair of combines, one in Oakland and another in Winnipeg, to get on the radar of CFL teams. He compares the combine in Winnipeg, held in a local indoor soccer complex, to a smaller version of the NFL Scouting Combine with coaches, scouts and general managers on hand to scout potential CFL talent.
"The most memorable moment was the bench press and the 40-yard dash," Zerr said. "When my section was going through those nothing else was going on on the whole field. We came up to the bench press, there are television cameras and you're in your CFL compression gear with a professional spotter and you get under the bench and there's just a softball bench with coaches and GMs with clipboards waiting. The stadium is just silent and maybe 100 people there and another 60 athletes and another 60 coaches and GMs."
Less than two weeks remain until the CFL opens camp on May 20 and Zerr is working on moving to Edmonton. He is excited at the opportunity to play in front of family and start his professional career in the province he was raised in. Zerr expects he will get a chance to make an impact first on special teams and not at running back.
The Eskimos open the 2018 season with an exhibition game versus Saskatchewan on May 27.