While growing up in Laval, Quebec, football wasn’t Elie Bouka’s first sport.
Bouka was, at first, soccer player. But when he was 6 years old, he tried out for football, his coaches put him at running back and he fell in love with the game.
“I was always the type of guy who, on the soccer field, I was so aggressive I would get penalties,” Bouka said. “For me, it was just a way to make an impact. Making an impact on the football field, there’s nothing like it. Running around and hitting people, I just fell in love with it.”
Bouka, a defensive back for the University of Calgary, now hopes to do it professionally. A former receiver, the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder played cornerback in college but is confident in his versatility at the next level. He admires the Chiefs’ Eric Berry and Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu, because of their passion, and also looks up to Charles Woodson because of his versatility.
“Guys that can play and are passionate about the game,” Bouka said.
Bouka also has another connection to the Chiefs — he shares an agent with fellow Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
“I spoke to Laurent, he’s a great guy very smart, somebody a lot of guys should look up to,” Bouka said.
Duvernay-Tardif, a sixth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2014, emerged as a starter last season, and Bouka hopes to follow in his NFL footsteps.
Bouka, who boasts an impressive 11-foot, 5-inch broad jump, said he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash last year before a left Achilles injury that wiped out his 2015 season.
“I have the size of a safety but can run like a corner,” Bouka said.
Bouka said he’s spoken to members of the Chiefs’ scouting staff, and will likely work out for teams the toward the end of the month.
“The Chiefs said they planned on watching my games, but unfortunately I got hurt in training camp,” Bouka said. “But people come back from these injuries, and teams are still interested. Nothing concrete yet, but there’s interest.”
Indeed. The Arizona Cardinals flew Bouka in for a predraft visit this month, and Bouka plans to show everyone toward the end of this month, when he hopes to be cleared to do testing drills .
“Being the athlete I am, it comes from work ethic, and my expectation is to get back on the field and be better than I was before the injury,” Bouka said. “I’m a confident guy — I have expectations for myself and I know that when I’m back, I’ll better than I was before.”
Inside the 2016 NFL Draft: safeties
From Sunday, April 10, until the draft begins on April 28, The Star will take a daily look at each position.
Chiefs’ needs: The Chiefs absorbed some losses here this offseason, as versatile starter Husain Abdullah retired and key backup Tyvon Branch signed with Arizona as a free agent. That leaves star safety Eric Berry. another versatile contributor, Ron Parker, and young safety the staff likes in Daniel Sorensen. The Chiefs also added some depth to the position by signing a veteran hitter in Stevie Brown and a veteran cover man in Jimmy Wilson to one-year “prove-it” deals, and given the recent success they’ve had in that area — Quintin Demps, Kurt Coleman and Branch all thrived — they might not need to invested a high pick in a safety. But defensive coordinator Bob Sutton enjoys using personnel groupings with multiple safeties, and if the right guy is there in the first or second round — someone with true single-high ability like, perhaps, West Virginia’s Karl Joseph — you can’t completely rule it out.
Sleeper: DeAndre Houston-Carson of William and Mary is a four-year starter and former cornerback who impressed at the Senior Bowl and always seems to be around the football.
▪ Brion Robinson, Lincoln, 5-9, 200: Recorded 51 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games in 2015.
▪ Ian Simon, Missouri, 6-0, 195: Was named the Tigers’ safety of the year in 2015 after racking up 46 tackle and two interceptions.
Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org