Lineman Gibbs catches on

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Beau Gibbs was pushing himself into an offensive lineman's block, trying to catch the eye of the Calgary Stampeders, when a simple question changed his career.

Stamps general manager Jim Barker noticed Gibbs at the CFL club's free-agent camp in Akron, Ohio. However, Barker saw an imposing receiver instead of an undersized rush end and asked him to switch positions.

A few short routes and sure-handed grabs later, Gibbs punched his ticket to Stampeders training camp, where he's still impressing coaches lining up as a slotback.

"I haven't really played offence since high school," said Gibbs yesterday.

"But my agent told them I could probably play both ways so they asked what I could do running routes. It's been going great since then."

The 6-ft. 4-in., 245-pounder can block well, runs across the middle without fear and, most importantly, catches the ball when it's thrown to him.

So far, Calgary quarterbacks and receivers coach Bill Diedrick likes what he sees from the Div. 1-AA University of Northern Iowa product.

"He tested well and caught the ball well," Diedrick said. "That's why you have those evaluation camps, so you can find a gem like that. We probably found one at every camp we had.

"You can do a lot of things with him. He can play a tight end position and he can play inside.

"I'm not sure he couldn't play outside. He has a lot more speed than most people think he has being the size he is. He gives us some flexibility."

Gibbs enjoys blocking for running backs and other receivers, which will be key on a deep Stamps offence.

"I'll be down in a three-point sometimes trying to open some holes," Gibbs said. "Eventually, if they need a fullback, I could line up there, too."

Since graduating college in the spring of 2005, Gibbs has worked with arena teams and shopped himself around at free-agent camps.

The most football he's played in the past five months was a weekly pickup game with fellow prospects in Pittsburgh.

He was almost ready to give up and thought the Akron workout might be his last shot.

"I wasn't sure what I was going to do after Akron," said the 24-year-old. "I was fortunate enough they liked what they saw.

"They told me at the Akron tryout they were looking for a guy with size who also had some speed and can run a block for them.

"Hopefully, I can be that guy."


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