Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (right, in action against the Alberta Golden Bears) is expected to be chosen in Tuesday’s Canadian Football League draft. (Bob Frid - UBC Thunderbirds photo)

Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (right, in action against the Alberta Golden Bears) is expected to be chosen in Tuesday’s Canadian Football League draft. (Bob Frid - UBC Thunderbirds photo)

Canadian Football League clubs high on Okanagan player

Former Vernon Panthers provincial MVP Ben Hladik of UBC expected to be chosen in CFL draft Tuesday, May 4

If it’s his home province B.C. Lions calling his name, fantastic.

If it’s the Montreal Alouettes, terrific. No matter which of the nine Canadian Football League teams that calls his name in Tuesday’s CFL draft, Vernon’s Ben Hladik will be thrilled. A dream of his will have been reached.

“I can’t wait, this is what I’ve waiting for for a long time,” said Hladik, 22, a star linebacker with the UBC Thunderbirds who has been back in his hometown staying with his parents since COVID hit in 2020. “It’s what I’ve been practicing for. It’s what I’ve been playing for and what I’ve been putting in all of the effort for.”

There will be six rounds in Tuesday’s draft. The Hamilton Tiger Cats have the first overall pick. TSN CFL writer Marshall Ferguson has Hladik going fourth overall to the Lions in his final mock draft.

“The star of combine season, Hladik posted looney tunes numbers to match his monster’s frame,” wrote Ferguson. “At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, the BC native ran a 4.55 40-yard dash and lifted 225 pounds 29 times on the bench press. Hladik is much more than a number though.

“He was a defensive captain for the Thunderbirds in 2018 and 2019 to go along with back-to-back Canada West All-Star and U SPORTS All-Canadian nods.”

Whichever club selects him, they’re going to get in Hladik, as 3downnation.com describes, “a physical freak.” The website has Hladik ranked as the second overall linebacker behind Calgary’s Amen Ogbongbemiga, who plays in the U.S. NCAA Div. 1 college ranks with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

“He (Hladik) put 29 reps on the bench, ran a 4.66 forty (40-yard dash), jumped 10-feet seven-inches and showed off his bend with the devil’s three-cone with a scary 6.66 seconds,” said the website, devoted to the CFL. “That athleticism translates to the field where he’s made 30.5 tackles for a loss in 28 games for the Thunderbirds despite what some consider a disappointing 2019 season.”

UBC went 2-6 in 2019. Hladik, studying psychology, missed his senior year with the T-Birds due to COVID. He was a U-SPORT All-Canadian in 2018. Hladik led the Vernon Panthers to their first B.C. AA Subway Bowl high school football championship game in 2016, where they lost to the No. 1 ranked Seaquam Seahawks of Delta. Hladik became the first Vernon player to be named provincial AA MVP that season.

Whichever team picks Hladik Tuesday, they will get a player ready to start his professional career.

“Whoever picks me will get a player that can come in and make an impact whether it’s on defence or on special teams,” said Hladik. “As soon as I get to training camp, I’ll be looking to make an impact.”

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced on April 21 that the league would return to play in 2021 after cancelling 2020 due to COVID.

The league is planning a 14-game season starting on Aug. 5 (league normally starts in June) and the Grey Cup, usually held on the last Sunday in November, is scheduled for Dec. 12 in Hamilton. League plans are subject to the state of COVID-19 across the country.

READ MORE: Vernon football star to showcase talent in front of scouts

READ MORE: Vernon football standout ranks CFL coverage

READ MORE: Ben Hladik of Vernon named U-Sports All-Canadian



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CFLFootballUBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

An example of one the sounding boards the RDOS has set up to gather feedback for their first parks, trails and recreation master plan. (RDOS)
Looking for feedback from Princeton and Keremeos for park and rec plan

Sounding boards have been set up in both regions for in-person input

Al Kowalko shows off the province's first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Okanagan schools shifting gears to electric buses

Vernon, Central Okanagan, Rocky Mountain and Okanagan-Skaha on board

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Accessibility concerns raised as Kelowna ponders banning vehicles from Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain Drive, which leads to two lookouts, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Upgrades will be completed on a portion of the Kettle Valley Railway trail north of Penticton. (Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen photo)
Contract awarded for improvements to trail near Penticton

Portion of Kettle Valley Railway trail will receive upgrades

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News file)
People aged 30+ in Summerland, Rutland offered vaccine amid high transmission risk

Interior Health offers residents of Rutland and Summerland aged 30 and up chance at vaccine

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Most Read