EDMONTON - It's only his second CFL stop, but Chris Bauman has already come a long way since playing nine-man football in high school.
The Edmonton Eskimos newest wide receiver signed a two-year (plus an option year) deal rumored to be in the $125,000 range annually, after spending his first four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-cats.
The thing is, he’s not even the biggest thing to come out of Brandon, Manibota’s Vincent Massey high school. That honour has to belong to six-foot-six, 270-pound Israel Idonije, of the Chicago Bears.
“I have never actually met him. We have never been in the same place at the same time,” said Bauman, from his home in Florida where he lives with his fiancee, Katie Mitchell. “The year he left Massey, I got there. But I know his two younger brothers and played basketball with both of them.”
The Ticats’ first draft pick in 2007, the six-foot-four, 212-pound Bauman had 298 yards and three touchdowns on 17 receptions, despite making just three starts in 18 regular-season games. He was released by his former club last week.
“I decided I was going to go to free agency anyway,” Bauman said. “So when they told me, it wasn’t a huge shock. I understand from their standpoint that they want to know what’s going on and I want to know what’s gong on, so I think it worked out best for both teams.”
And Bauman got a head start on the whole free agency process, which doesn’t open until Feb. 16.
“It’s good that I finally know where I’m going to be, now I can just start preparing for the season,” said Bauman, who returns back west since playing with the University of Regina Rams. “It’s going to be different playing in the West Division, I won’t be playing Winnipeg four times in a year.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I really like the city of Edmonton. I hear they have a lot of good golf courses.”
In his last game with the Ticats — a loss to the Toronto Argonauts in the East semifinal — Bauman caught five passes for a team-high 108 yards, as well as the eye of the Eskimos front office.
“He had the opportunity and he took advantage of the opportunity,” Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said. “He really garnered our attention.”
After going through the rebuilding phase that took the Ticats from the bottom of the heap into playoff contention, Bauman said he is looking forward to getting to Edmonton and picking up right where he left off.
“They’re a lot further ahead than when I got to Hamilton my first year,” Bauman said of the Eskimos, who missed the playoffs with a 7-11 record last year. “They had a lot of very close games last year, it’s just hopefully a few pieces and we’ll be right back in the hunt for a playoff.”
NOTES: Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic will return to Moncton in the fall.
Following the inaugural game last year between the Eskimos and Argonauts in the first regular season CFL game ever to be played in Atlantic Canada, Moncton city council agreed to bring it back again this year.
Details, including the two participating teams, the date and time of the game will be announced shortly, along with the full CFL schedule for 2011.