Draft left QB out in cold

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

NFL draft day is filled with suspense and high expectations for players eager to hear their names called in the opening rounds.

Not only is it the fulfilment of lifelong football dreams for young college talents, there's the inevitable financial windfall that goes hand-in-hand with signing with an NFL club.

The buildup is even more intense for a newlywed, such as Calgary Stampeders QB Ben Dougherty, who arrived at training camp yesterday.

But after being projected to go as high as the fifth round, ranked 12th among eligible pivots with five NFL teams showing an interest, Dougherty's phone never rang.

"Well, it didn't go good," Dougherty chuckled yesterday about the draft letdown, moments after completing his first Stampeders practice as the fourth pivot in camp.

"I watched the draft with my family in Iowa.

"After the first day, not a lot of quarterbacks were taken and my agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told me it didn't look good but that I'd get signed by Sunday night and still get my chance to play in the NFL. But it just never happened.

"The Arizona Cardinals phoned during the seventh round ... but it just didn't work out.

"Then I was supposed to go to their mini-camp and I was getting married May 5, so I cancelled my honeymoon because that's when their mini-camp was. So I cancelled all that and they called four days before the camp and said, 'Never mind.' Luckily, we were still able to get our reservations back."

Before long Calgary came calling, and thanks to some advice from old teammate Casey Printers, Dougherty decided to give the CFL a shot.

He spent a year in college behind the B.C. Lions quarterback and CFL MVP, who recommended the move to Canada after the draft day disappointment.

"I know him really well and talked to him a few times since making the decision to come up here to Canada," said Dougherty, 25.

"I spent one year there behind him on the depth chart and he said how much playing in Florida A&M's offence helped him up here. Down there, we played in a fast-paced, no-huddle offence, threw the ball a ton. He said that helped him a lot and he thinks I could do really well up here.

"He said he's really enjoyed it up here, had a lot of fun. He was in a similar situation to me, wasn't the starter going into last season but a few things happened, he made the most of his opportunities and that's how I feel.

"I know I'm way behind and I feel I have so much to make up on at this point. It's like coming into a class and I'm three weeks behind in my studies with a lot of stuff to learn and pick up."

Dougherty posted some impressive numbers the last two years at Florida A&M, recording a 65% completion rate while ending last season with a couple of 400-yard games.

Also of note is Dougherty's experience calling his own plays and thriving in a no-huddle offence, which bodes well for adapting to the fast-paced CFL.

"It's something not a lot of quarterbacks do in college but my coach let me do it because I'm a real student of the game and that's why, hopefully, I'll be able to pick up the Canadian game real fast," Dougherty said.

Quarterbacks coach Bill Diedrick got his first real look at Dougherty in yesterday's rain-soaked workout at McMahon Stadium.

"He's a big, strong kid who throws the ball well," Diedrick said. "Just in the little time he's been here, he's been all ears trying to pick up what he can. It's like trying to take two months and shrink it into two or three days."


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