Seeking Mr. Relevant

Andre Sommersell earned the unflattering title of Mr. Irrelevant after he was the 255th and last...

Andre Sommersell earned the unflattering title of Mr. Irrelevant after he was the 255th and last player picked in the 2004 NFL Draft. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Andre Sommersell wants to become Mr. Relevant.

After being labelled as Mr. Irrelevant in the NFL, the personable defensive end is hoping to finally make a positive name for himself this spring and crack the Edmonton Eskimo roster.

"I really want to be here. I don't want to go home," he said yesterday after the end of another back-to-back training camp practice session.

After a great college career at Colorado State - five bowl games in five years - Sommersell's only claim to fame in the pro football world is being the 255th and final player chosen in the 2004 NFL draft, which brings the unflattering title of being Mr. Irrelevant.

For the last 29 years, the last pick has carried that tag and absorbed the jokes that come with it from media coverage across the United States.

But being Mr. Irrelevant also brings something incredibly bizarre - a wild week of partying in California. Believe it or not, Newport Beach hosts Mr. Irrelevant Week every spring to honour that last player.

"It made me feel weird. It was like, 'Wow, these people (in Newport Beach) are actually doing this stuff for me,' " recalled Sommersell.

"They didn't even know me and I had a whole week dedicated to me and anything I wanted. It made me feel like a king."

With family and high school friends invited to enjoy the festivities, there was a parade, banquet, parties and even a boat regatta. "I got to captain a sailboat," said the 25-year-old import. "How many people can say they ever did that?"

And then there was the Miss Irrelevant contest.

"We'll just say that is rated R," he chuckled.

"We go to the club and pick out females in the club to become Miss Irrelevant for the night."

But after the partying came several harsh doses of reality.

He was quickly cut by the Oakland Raiders in training camp. He then jumped to the Cleveland Browns but was quickly bounced out of town.

The Indianapolis Colts came calling last year, but cut him in the preseason - which brings him to Edmonton, hoping to find his first regular paycheque since leaving school in 2004.

And so far he has been very impressive. In fact, he might be the best defensive end in camp.

"He's going to be a difference-maker," said defensive line coach Dennis Winston. "He knows only one speed and that is full speed."

But Sommersell is dealing with some extremely tough competition. With the Eskimos usually keeping just two import rush ends on the roster, he's fighting with returnee Charles Alston, highly touted Anthony Collier and rookie Sherrod Coates.

"There are going to be some tough decisions and right now I'm glad I'm not the head coach," continued Winston.

Before camp started, there was talk within the organization that Sommersell would push linebacker Singor Mobley for his job. But with his strong debut at defensive end, he might not be moved - which suits Winston just fine.

"I am not going to give good players away," he cracked, before admitting he would be willing to let Sommersell move wherever the team needs him most.

If he continues to stand out through the rest of camp, Sommersell just might become a relevant piece of the Eskimos' drive to defend the Grey Cup.


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