Mack fairly gushes

PAUL FRIESEN, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

If youve heard Joe Mack say much at all since he took over as the GM of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, youll know he keeps his cards pressed flat up against his chest.

Every comment is carefully weighed and measured, designed not to offend or tip off. Its management by the book.

One of the early chapters in the Mack bible no doubt contains the commandment, Thou shalt not over-hype thine latest acquisition.

The GM had an awfully tough time obeying that one Friday.

Talking about the signing of receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris, Mack was virtually biting off his tongue on the other end of the line.

I hate to say too much, Mack managed, after a significant pregnant pause. It puts a smile on my face for the potential he may have.

Young, big and fast that sums up Jeffers-Harris.

Just 21, hes 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. But his speed is what blew the Bombers away.

He ran a 4.4, Mack said. He was explosive in the workout. He was explosive. From a pure physical standpoint he has real potential.

The Bombers worked the guy out twice, first at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, then privately in Atlanta at the end of March, before offering him a contract.

This reminds me a little of when the Bombers discovered 21-year-old DB Juran Bolden 15 years ago.

Hopefully, every once in a while you find a gem, Mack said.

So whats the catch?

The guy hasnt played in two years.

Despite a 44-catch, 582-yard season as a sophomore (2007) at the University of Connecticut, Jeffers-Harris felt forgotten in the UConn offence, and transferred to Vanderbilt.

After sitting out a year under NCAA transfer rules, he failed to get enough credits to become eligible last year.

Jeffers-Harris says it was a combination of lousy marks and not being able to transfer enough credits from UConn.

I honestly got lazy at UConn, which probably carried over into Vanderbilt, he told the Sun in a refreshing burst of honesty from Atlanta.

By the time he realized he was ineligible, hed missed the deadline to declare for the NFL draft.

When the Bombers beckoned, he jumped at the chance.

Im excited to play a different kind of ball, Jeffers-Harris said. I would like to come back to the States. But Id also like to learn from it, as well. Normally I dont think I would have went to Canada. But Im taking the opportunity. Ive got my passport and Im ready to go. Im just amped to finally play some football.

As crazy as it sounds, the only guy more amped might be Mack.

I dont want to put too much pressure on the kid, the GM said. But he was somebody where ... Im talking about legitimate ... I dont even want to say this. Hes impressive.

Consider us intrigued.

SO LONG, SIDDEEQ: The release of linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz might be disconcerting to Bomber fans, particularly after the departures of Lenny and Gavin Walls, Jonathan Hefney, Barrin Simpson and Fred Perry.

But the boss says not to worry about the defence.

I feel cautiously optimistic about the people were bringing in, Mack said. You have to be careful about becoming stagnant.

Not much chance of that again this year.

Mack says younger players signed or about to be signed should make the transition seamless.

Were betting he tried to trade Shabazz first, but Mack wouldnt confirm it.

THEORY QUASHED: Heard an interesting theory on the Shabazz release from a fellow scribe, who said some nasty hits by the linebacker on then-B.C. pivot Buck Pierce, when Shabazz was with Edmonton, may have caused some bad blood that still hasnt dried.

Thing is, Pierce told me Thursday he and Shabazz remain tight from their days as teammates at New Mexico State.


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