'Familiar names' at Esks camp

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed and Matt Nichols at the first day of Rookie Camp this week....

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed and Matt Nichols at the first day of Rookie Camp this week. (QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

There might not be any familiar faces at Edmonton Eskimos rookie camp, but at least there are a couple of recognizable names.

And they would like nothing more than to make a name for themselves among Eskimos fans this season.

While not nearly as famous as the Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach and NASCAR team owner who shares his handle, Joe Gibbs is looking to earn a place on the Eskimos offensive line.

But that might explain how he caught the eye of Eskimos coaches.

“Yeah, because I’m a Redskins fan, right?” Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed laughed. “No, he’s a young man I saw down in Mobile, (Ala.), and when he came and worked out at (director of player personnel) Paul (Jones’s) camp I was very impressed with his athleticism. Very impressed with his football IQ. Very impressed with his character.

“The young man had one of the best workouts I’ve seen an O-lineman have in my time coaching and we were fortunate enough to sign him.”

He’s of no relation to the other Gibbs, nor was he named after him.

“Really, it started out as Joseph when I was younger,” said the six-foot-four, 295-pounder out of Tennessee-Martin. “And then my high-school coach started calling me Joe and it kind of stuck ever since.”

Back then, Gibbs was a four-sport athlete with Brilliant high school in Mobile — five, if you count golf — which is impressive for someone with so much size.

“Being a small school, you pretty much just had to play everything and that’s what I did the whole time,” said Gibbs, who immediately fell in love with football in Grade 7. “I love getting to hit people.”

Gibbs took his talents to the NFL where he spent the 2010 preseason with the St. Louis Rams before being released and signing on with the UFL’s Hartford franchise that ended up folding prior to the 2011 season.

“I just went back to school and finished up my degree,” said the sports-management grad who is itching to get back onto the gridiron. “I’ve been knocking rust off the past few days.”

Then there is linebacker Derek Domino, who wasn’t born until 17 years after the famous blues/rock group Derek and the Dominos formed in 1970.

Heck, his parents weren’t even Eric Clapton fans.

“Nope, not at all,” said the six-foot-three, 235-pound South Dakota State product. “It was just random. They liked the name Derek and people ask me that a lot.”

Domino spent the past season as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos, but ended up on the injured reserve.

“Two or three weeks into camp, I ruptured a tendon in my hand, had surgery the next day and I was out almost the whole season,” Domino said. “It was tough. It was also kind of nice, they broke me in easy and showed me what being a pro was all about.

“Everything from going to sleep on time to studying in meetings to practising daily. Of course I wouldn’t like to get injured, but that’s the way it goes.”

Domino also has a better understanding of sports culture in Edmonton than most Eskimos rookies, having grown up in the hockey hub of Minneapolis, Minn.

“Everyone’s talking about the Stanley Cup and I felt like I was right back at home.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge

 


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