Josh Boden is a rare athlete in this country.
At the tender age of 19 this spring, he caught two touchdown passes in the pre-season for the B.C. Lions.
And while that's impressive, what makes this gifted receiver a real rarity is this simple fact: he's a non-import without a complete high school education, who is trying to become a star in the CFL.
STILL MISSING CREDITS
The Vancouver native is still missing a Grade 11 math course and a Grade 12 English class credit.
But unlike the NFL, where a player must finish three college football seasons or be out of high school for three years before he can turn pro, the CFL doesn't have such a rule - which opened the door for Boden to jump to the Lions after just one season of junior football.
"I feel I wasn't being pushed hard enough at junior," said Boden. "I broke records, but I didn't think I was learning enough."
Boden hasn't seen the field for a regular-season game with the Lions this summer - and might not this year. Instead, he could spend his first pro year on the practice roster, earning a small paycheque.
But he's not complaining. Instead, he's soaking up every lesson from head coach Wally Buono, who is stealing a page out of the Montreal Canadiens' former playbook.
"The Canadiens of the 1960s and 70s had the Black Aces - they were all the great young players that never got to play," said Buono. "The Canadiens made them practise and wear black shirts, but they would always sit in the stands (for real games).
"They weren't playing because they weren't good enough. They weren't playing because they didn't understand the Canadien way.
"The Canadiens were training the hockey players to understand the expectations."
That's exactly what's happening with Boden.
"He has a lot of natural football skill," continued Buono. "But hopefully we're teaching him more than football skills.
"You want to see him be responsible, dependable, make good choices."
BODEN WILL FINISH HIGH SCHOOL
And with the urging of three of his new teammates, it appears Boden is about to make a good decision - he'll finish his high school education at the end of this season.
"Paris (Jackson), Mark (Washington) and Carl Kidd are really pushing me for that," explained Boden.
SHORT HITS: The 7-0 Montreal Alouettes are hoping history repeats itself. The last two times the Als started a season with seven straight wins (1977 and 2002), they won the Grey Cup ... Maybe the few remaining Ottawa Renegade fans should adopt the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as their team for the 2006 season. There are 13 ex-Renegade players on the Bomber roster and two ex-Ottawa coaches - including Greg Marshall - on staff ... For those keeping track, Dahrran Diedrick had 44 yards on four carries last Thursday in his first game for the Als. In contrast, Edmonton's Troy Davis had 45 yards on 12 carries against B.C.