Rashad Jeanty is about to stare the biggest Catch-22 situation of his young life square in the face.
The 21-year-old Edmonton Eskimos defensive end was one of 49 underclassmen recently deemed eligible for April's NFL draft.
But if the six-foot-three, 245-pound Jeanty was to be selected in the six-round session on April 23 and 24, he would be unable to sign because he must play out his option with the Esks.
Under the terms of the CFL-NFL player transfer agreement, players entering the option year of their CFL contracts have until the end of February to sign with an NFL club.
"Whatever (NFL) team drafts me - if I get drafted - they'll have my rights," the youngest player to tug on a CFL jersey the past two seasons said yesterday from Miami. "I can't sign (an NFL) contract and I won't sign because I'm living up to my contract up in Edmonton."
Timing is everything on the gridiron. Ditto for life in general - as Jeanty is rapidly discovering.
"You've got a deadline and the draft in April," said Jeanty, who flunked out of Central Florida University his freshman year and signed with the Esks in 2003.
"Obviously, I can't beat the deadline. It's frustrating. Going back to Canada is not a bad thing. Edmonton was the one who gave me the opportunity to continue my career, regroup and play football again."
Jeanty racked up 49 tackles and five sacks with the Esks last season.
Jeanty recently hired Florida-based David Canter as his agent. Canter, whose firm represents 60 NFLers, has already contacted several NFL teams. The agent is hoping to lure a number of scouts to South Florida for an open workout, thereby sparing his client endless hours of jetting from one NFL city to another to strut his stuff.
The speedy end is out to make a good first impression.
"This is a crazy business," he said. "If I have an outstanding workout and blow their minds, they ain't going to have no choice (but to wait). My goal is to have the best workout possible."
LATE HITS: Don't look for significant change to the Esks home or road jerseys for '05. Apart from more readable numbers, the home jersey will remain virtually untouched. The white road jersey, meanwhile, will feature green piping around the neck. The cosmetic changes as well as the introduction of a third jersey are all part of the CFL's deal with Reebok signed last winter.