Wisconsin quarterback feels his game will play in Canada

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Life is never boring in the Edmonton Eskimos' igloo.

The Green and Gold have signed former University of Wisconsin quarterback Tyler Donovan to a long-term deal, Sun Media has learned.

"I feel my game fits well in Canada," Donovan told Sun Media yesterday.

"I like to think of myself as a dual-threat quarterback - a guy that is going to make throws but also make throws outside the pocket.

"I like to think of myself as a playmaker."

The Eskimos haven't announced the signing of the 23-year-old import, but expect that to come very soon.

It's a four-year contract (three-years plus an option), meaning the club is hoping Donovan will learn the CFL game over the next couple of seasons.

Of course, Ricky Ray is the established starter with Stefan LeFors sitting as the No. 2 pivot on the depth chart.

Jason Maas is also under contract, meaning Donovan will be fourth on the depth chart when training camp begins at the end of May.

Considering how much the Eskimos scrambled last year to find a third-string pivot when Ray injured a shoulder - remember Scott Eyster struggled to throw a tight spiral in his short stay here - the team might find a way to keep Donovan if he shows promise at camp.

The starter for all 13 Wisconsin games last year, Donovan threw for 2,607 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in a 9-4 campaign.

"That kid got sacked 32 times last year at Wisconsin and came up every time," said Donovan's agent John Perla Jr. from his office in Brookfield, WI.

"I think Edmonton will be really happy with him once he gets an opportunity."

Rated 30th among 109 quarterbacks eligible for this year's NFL draft, Donovan and the people inside his inner circle decided to sign in the CFL instead of waiting for a longshot opportunity to develop south of the border.

"It was a lifelong dream to look at the NFL as a possibility. But as he went through the NFL process in the winter, they (Wisconsin coaches and his agent) tried to solicit some opinions from trusted scouts who would give a good, solid opinion on what his chances were as far as being an NFL player," said Perla Jr.

"The scouts thought he would be a camp-type player but didn't think he was going to get quite as much interest as he would like.

"Teams (in the NFL) are just a little bit worried because he hadn't played more than a year (at college). As much as they liked his athleticism and his accuracy and his toughness, they had some reservations about whether or not he would stand the rigours of NFL football.

"He is only about 6-1, about 190 pounds. The prototypical guy they like (in the NFL) is about 6-3, about 210 pounds."

The Eskimos also helped their cause by showing significant interest in the communications student.

After sending two scouts to watch Donovan at the UW pro day in early March, the Esks observed the pivot during a mini-camp tryout in Orlando last month.

Now the personable CFL rookie is trying to finish his degree in Madison, WI, while learning the three-down game on the side.

"I have started studying some film on the CFL and getting a feel for what to expect and learning all the rules," he remarked.

"It is definitely an exciting game."

FINISH LINES: Paul Chryst - a former CFL assistant coach - was Donovan's offensive co-ordinator at UW.


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