Esks sign draft choices

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

With the Edmonton Eskimos' main training camp now 10 days away, the squad is putting the final touches on its camp roster.

Toward that end, the Green and Gold announced the signing of offensive lineman Tim O'Neill, kicker Anthony Posteraro and wide receiver Robert Leblanc yesterday.

All three are non-imports and were selected by the Esks in last month's Canadian college draft.

At 21 years and four months, Leblanc, a Vancouver native, became the youngest player selected in the Canadian Football League's annual lottery.

Captain of the McGill Redmen last season, Leblanc is a classic overachiever.

In addition to being a standout on the gridiron, the six-foot-one, 190-pound receiver was recipient of the Max Bell Scholarship as well as a member of McGill's Golden Key Honour Society.

"There's a bit of a competitor in me," Leblanc told The McGill News recently.

An honours commerce student, Leblanc has been hired by Mercer Management Consulting and was scheduled to begin work at the firm's Toronto office.

But after being selected 40th overall by the Esks, the firm has agreed to defer Leblanc's start date so he can attend training camp.

"Part of the CFL dream for me is to sample a slice of Canadiana," the wideout told McGill's alumni publication.

"I would love the experience of visiting different parts of the country and seeing how each city supports its team."

On top of holding the distinction of being the youngest player taken in the draft, Leblanc and his brother, Valmon Joseph, are the only siblings to be named first-team conference all-stars and academic all-Canadians in the same year.

O'Neill, a six-foot-three, 271-pound guard, was drafted 22nd overall and could be practice roster material.

Posteraro grew up in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Iowa's Graceland University. Edmonton selected the 21-year-old kicker in the third round and 31st overall.

Exclusive of 2005 draft picks and other non-counters, CFL clubs can take a maximum of 68 players to training camp.

CATCH AS CATCH CAN: Montreal Alouettes head coach Don Matthews isn't crying over losing Thyron Anderson to the NFL or Jeremaine Copeland to Calgary via free agency.

Instead, Matthews believes with the acquisition of former Esks slotback Terry Vaughn and Anthony Calvillo running Montreal's offence, the Als could have five 1,000-yard receivers this season.

Matthews currently has Vaughn pencilled in to replace Copeland but not become Copeland.

"We're not trying to make Terry Vaughn (into) Copeland," explained Matthews during a conference call earlier this week. "We're going to let Terry Vaughn be Terry Vaughn.

"The good thing about our offence is we're able to program in plays that utilize the skills of the players. Things we would ask Copeland to do, we may not ask Terry Vaughn to do. Things we would ask Terry Vaughn to do, maybe Copeland wasn't able to do."

A perennial all-star, Vaughn has a CFL-record 10 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to his credit. All indications are Vaughn will be given every opportunity to extend that streak in Montreal.

"Whoever is playing that position, just like Copeland, I would think that Anthony is going to hit that guy with the football at least 100 times this year and he's going to catch a bunch of them," Matthews said.


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