Into the eighth and final round of the 2023 Canadian Football League entry draft, Josh Hyer turned to a friend who was at his Vernon home and said, “I’m not so sure it’s (being drafted) going to happen.”
Seconds later, Hyer’s name popped up on the television screen.
The Vernon Panthers and University of Calgary Dinos defensive end alumnus was selected in the eighth round, 64th overall, by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the draft held Tuesday, May 2.
“When it got to the last round, I thought it might not happen,” said Hyer, 23, of his selection. “It’s awesome. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid, and for it to finally happen is pretty cool.”
Hyer – who had his family and a few friends gathered around the TV in his Vernon home to watch the draft – graduated from the Panthers program in 2016. He went on to play at the University of Calgary, winning a Vanier Cup national championship in 2019.
He credits his high school coaching and university experience for helping him realize his CFL dream.
“Sean Smith (VSS head coach) is a great coach and a great mentor, one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” said Hyer. “From there, I went to the U of C. Was there for six years and while I was there, I was soaking in everything, being a sponge, never being complacent where I was at. I kept working every day, working toward that goal and finally got there.”
Smith was ecstatic for his former standout.
“At every level, he’s always been dedicated to his teammates and to becoming the best he can be. To see him reach the highest level of football, and be drafted by the Tiger Cats, is such a great moment for Josh and his family.”
Hyer is the second Panther grad taken in the CFL. His longtime friend, former teammate and VSS Class of 2016 alum Ben Hladik was chosen in the third round in 2021 by the B.C. Lions.
“Ben called me after I was drafted and said it was going to be awesome to be on the same field with you again,” said Hyer. “Playing the B.C. Lions is going to be cool.”
The Tiger-Cats visit the Lions in Week 12 on Saturday, Aug. 26.
Former Fulton Maroons star James Green was selected in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Toronto Argonauts.
—-with files from Jack Neumann, University of Calgary