A number of years ago, a kid from Mill Woods got a chance to meet a star running back after a game at Commonwealth Stadium.
Lwal Uguak boldly asked for Calvin McCarty’s gloves. The Green and Gold great was in a giving mood.
“They were a pair of black Cutters, and I was just (thinking) like, I need those,” Lwal recalls. “I was just a big fan.”
Lwal just missed catching up with McCarty during the recent CFL Combine at the Commonwealth Stadium Recreation Centre; It was probably the first time in years that a running back has managed to elude Uguak.
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Coming off a trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship in his senior season at Texas Christian University, the defensive lineman from Edmonton is considered one of the top prospects for the 2023 CFL Draft.
Lwal ranked eighth overall and second among his position in the Winter Edition of the CFL Scouting Bureau. The Edmonton Elks hold the No. 2 overall selection and have nine picks total in the draft, which is set for May 2.
Last week, McCarty was appearing at the Edmonton Elks Community Combine event. Meanwhile, Lwal was interviewing with teams at the CFL Combine.
As he sat across from icons of Canadian football like Elks assistant general manager Geroy Simon, Lwal was transported back to his minor football days with the Edmonton Chargers, making team trips to cheer on the Green and Gold Commonwealth Stadium.
“I remember going to games and just really admiring a lot of the players, so it was definitely interesting meeting with some of these teams,” says Lwal. “I met Geroy Simon, and I was like, ‘I remember you on the BC Lions and doing the Superman (celebration pose) after every time you scored’, so to see him in person and knowing the impact he had on me at a young age, it brought my childhood back to me.”
Originally a running back and linebacker with the Chargers, Uguak switched to defensive end when he started playing high school football for the Harry Ainlay Titans. In his Grade 12 season, 2017, Uguak was named a CFC First Team All-Canadian and helped the Titans win the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) Tier 1 championship.
Lwal decided to pursue opportunities in NCAA Division 1 football, following a trail blazed by his older brother Aher Uguak, who played NCAA Division 1 basketball at New Mexico State University and Loyola University Chicago and now is a member of the Edmonton Stingers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
“Seeing my brother do it showed me that if I worked and had the drive to do the same thing I could reach that level as well,” Lwal says. “I had a sense that I could take the sport to the next level.”
Lwal originally attended the University of Connecticut, where he suited up for 34 games over three seasons, including 2019 when he led the Huskies with four sacks. Prior to the 2022 season, Lwal transferred to Texas Christian, where he integrated into the Frogs’ unique defence.
— NCAA Transfer Portal (@RivalsPortal) January 31, 2022
“Our coach was really big on subbing every time, running on and off, making quick subs, we were rotating a lot,” Lwal explains. “It was a little bit different from UConn, where I played 50-60 snaps a game and now we played a defence where no one was getting more than 20 reps.”
Lwal was part of the TCU’s historic first ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. Texas Christian defeated Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl before falling to Georgia in the National Championship game.
He was again following the footsteps of his older brother; Aher was a national semi-finalist as a redshirt member of the 2018 Loyola men’s basketball team that reached the Final Four. Now Lwal is about to take Aher’s path once more, becoming a professional athlete.
And then Lwal will be the one getting asked for his gloves.