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Ahead of draft, Severin grabbed attention at Gruden's QB camp

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Former Virginia wide receiver Canaan Severin served as a pass catch for the ESPN show Gruden's QB Camp recently. He hopes to be selected in the NFL Draft this week. (Photo/Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress)

In a light shirt and dark shorts like the rest of Jared Goff’s receivers, Canaan Severin didn’t immediately pop off the television screen.

But then Goff faded a pass to the corner of the end zone and both hands and feet were recognized. On the run, Severin pulled in the touchdown. His orange and white cleats stayed in bounds.

“Good,” said Jon Gruden, nodding his approval, “good.”

Goff, a quarterback from Cal, will likely be taken by the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night with the first pick of the NFL Draft. A few months ago, a former Virginia standout helped Goff in his training.

“Afterward,” Severin said, “Jared Goff was like, ‘That Severin kid’s pretty good.’ And Gruden was like, ‘Yeah he’s pretty good. ... Anyway, anyway back to you. Forget Severin, back to you.’

“It was funny.”

Gruden’s QB Camp, a popular ESPN series featuring the former Super Bowl-winning head coach and the top college signal callers entering the Draft, isn’t necessarily on TV to showcase other positions.

But, as UVa receivers coach Marques Hagans recently noted, “you always want to see if the ball ends up on the ground or not.”

Whether Severin was the target for Greyson Lambert or Matt Johns, he rarely let pigskin touch playing surface over his final two seasons with the Cavaliers (see 96 receptions).

While assisting Goff, he was also highlighting his best skill.

“A lot of other guys weren’t catching the ball that day, I don’t know why,” Severin said. “They weren’t connecting with Jared Goff. I was catching one and maybe somebody else would drop one.

“After a while, Gruden was just like, ‘Canaan! Canaan! Virginia, Virginia, come on!’ I’m like, ‘Perfect. Let’s do it.’ He’s like, ‘Severin Severin, come on!’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go, let’s keep getting it.’

“We were connecting.”


By the end of the weekend, Severin would like to be connected with an NFL team. The 6-foot-2 212-pounder said he’s talked to 25 of the 32 organizations and has made in-city visits with two of them.

“I’ve worked out with five teams,” Severin said. “I mean, maybe the team that really wants me the most isn’t saying anything. They’re just waiting for Saturday or whenever. During the Draft, after the Draft, whenever it is.”

Severin played in the NLPA Collegiate Bowl in January and later moved to Florida to work with speed specialist Tom Shaw. Shaw linked Severin to Gruden’s camp, located on ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

There, he joined a receiving corps that included Tennessee’s Marquez North, Florida’s Latroy Pittman and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes, among others.

“That’s not really a show for the receivers, it’s more for the quarterbacks,” Hagans said. “But I think some people got a chance to say, ‘Who is that kid?’ Some people took notice. I think he opened some eyes down there.”

A hamstring injury prevented Severin from participating in UVa’s Pro Day on March 15, but, once healthy, he held a more private session at McCue Center a few weeks later.

Hagans, a former Virginia quarterback, served as Severin’s QB.

“We had that connection already,” Severin said. “He’s someone I spent a lot of time with catching passes from. He was slinging, I’ll tell you that. He’s still got it. If he still had years of eligibility, we might have went 10-2 last year.”

While Hagans, eight seasons removed from his last NFL appearance, isn’t ready to announce his comeback, he is certain Severin, who said he clocked in a 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds, has a shot at the next level.

Those hands Gruden noticed? Hagans saw them for four years.

“I think the main thing with the NFL is just opportunity,” said Hagans, formerly of the St. Louis Rams. “There’s a lot of guys who are extremely fast that can’t catch. So what use is it throwing the ball way down the field if they can’t catch it? It’s just like a deep fly ball to center field.

“The guys that succeed in the NFL are guys that can get in and out of breaks and make tough, contested catches — and that’s what he can do.

“So whoever gives him an opportunity, he’ll make the most of it because he’s a hard worker. He won’t be outworked and he can really, really catch the ball. He’s got a helluva catch radius.”

 Andrew Ramspacher is the Daily Progress' Virginia football, women's basketball and baseball beat writer. Contact him at (434) 978-7250, or on Twitter @ARamspacher.


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