Masoli just looking to help Eskimos

Jeremiah Masoli was at the first day of Eskimos mini camp on Wednesday and says despite some past...

Jeremiah Masoli was at the first day of Eskimos mini camp on Wednesday and says despite some past troubles with the law, he is focused on football these days. (David Bloom, QMI AGENCY)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

EDMONTON - As a quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli is no stranger to relentless pursuit.

And not just from sack-happy defenders, either.

The freshly signed Edmonton Eskimos pivot got his first taste of the CFL during a minicamp in the Commmonwealth Stadium fieldhouse on Wednesday, when he was introduced to local media for the first time.

Unfortunately for the 23-year-old San Francisco native, whenever he arrives in a new city, he is always followed by a couple of past transgressions.

After a Rose Bowl appearance in 2009, a championship-calibre season with the University of Oregon Ducks was derailed when the potential Heisman trophy candidate pleaded guilty to a well-publicized robbery at a frat house, followed by marijuana possession that saw him kicked off the team.

“I’m just focused on playing football. I’ve been moving forward with my life since then,” said Masoli, who played his senior year at Ole Miss before spending the 2011 NFL preseason with the San Francisco 49ers. “I’ve been through some things and definitely learned from them and try to teach other people about it so they can learn from my situation.

“Besides that, I’m just looking to help the Edmonton team out.”

While the Eskimos are willing to give him a second chance, not everyone is a fan and Masoli certainly has his detractors. At one point on Wednesday, his Wikipedia page had been altered with the ridiculously false addition tacked on stating: “Jeremiah Masoli is in custody at the Las Vegas jail for the brutal murder of 14 pregnant women.” The entry has since been removed.

Like him or not, the Eskimos are giving him a chance. Much like they did with bad-boy running back Jerome Messam on the way to last year’s Canadian Player of the Year award following a 1,000-yard rushing season. Not to mention general manager Eric Tillman’s past legal issue.

“As an organization, we set aside a lot of room for guys who we feel are good character guys who made bad decisions,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Like all of us, Jeremiah made some bad decisions. We have to be willing to forgive and extrapolate that those things are not going to happen again.

“He has to also understand that there is a zero-tolerance policy with us. Our organization really believes in giving second chances, but we are not going to allow people to take advantage of that second opportunity and regret it.”

On the gridiron, Masoli arrives in Edmonton in much the same manner he did Oregon, as the fifth-string quarterback with everything to prove all over again.

While Reed is listing Masoli as a project to develop for the future, Masoli is looking for the same meteoric rise he had with the Ducks that saw him earn the starting role in his first year on the way to a Holiday Bowl victory.

“That’s a great story to learn from,” Masoli said. “I was fifth on their depth chart, due to injuries and whatnot, so lo and behold, they put me in and the rest is history.”

While his first impressions of Edmonton’s facilities were “top-notch,” Masoli said he hopes fans looking to get a first impression on him visit the website www.jeremiahmasoli.net.

“Just for people who want to know my story and the truth about things,” he said. “Sometimes word of mouth can be construed the wrong way.”

HAPPY CAMPERS: All five Eskimos quarterbacks are in attendance at the minicamp, which runs Thursday and Friday morning and also includes seven receivers, a pair of running backs and centre Gord Hinse. On Wednesday, the Eskimos were joined by a host of Edmonton Huskies junior players.

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