From humble beginnings

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

There's a good chance Chris Bauman will be selected in the first round of Wednesday's CFL draft, which is rare for someone who played nine-man football in high school.

Despite that, the University of Regina Rams receiver is still only the second-most famous product of Brandon's Vincent Massey Vikings football team. Israel Idonije, who played for the Vikes and in February became the first Manitoban to play in the Super Bowl, has a firm grip on that title.

Bauman, however, will likely be able to brag to family and friends that he was taken higher than Idonije in the CFL draft. (We'll leave out the part about Idonije already being destined for the NFL when the Ottawa Renegades took him in the second round in 2003.)

"It's been a pretty good year for our little program. We've been pretty blessed," said Vikings head coach Kevin Grindey, who added that Premier Gary Doer has promised to help Massey get a new football field as well.

Grindey is not surprised that Bauman, who played for the Vikings between 1998 and 2001 and won three straight nine-man championships, has shone in the eyes of CFL scouts.

"He's driven," Grindey said. "He just wills himself to make plays. ... He's the prototypical CFL receiver. He's fast, he's big, and yards after the catch are going to be big for him."

Bauman will track the draft over the Internet from his parents' home in the Wheat City on Wednesday, and Grindey plans to attend a celebration at the Baumans later that night.

By all accounts, the man of honour will be a first-rounder.

"It should be pretty high in the first round, but that's about all I know right now," Bauman said recently from Regina. "The closer I get to it, the more nervous I get.

"And then once this NFL draft gets over (today), things might start to change a bit more."

It was an impressive showing at the league's annual evaluation camp last month in Toronto that rocketed Bauman's stock in the eyes of CFL scouts.

"I couldn't have done any better," he said.

The athletic and speedy 6-foot-5, 215-pounder spent most of his time at the camp talking to the Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts.

Toronto doesn't have a pick until the fourth round, so it appears Edmonton, which has the second overall pick, or Calgary, which has three selections in the top six, are the possible destinations.

"I'd like to stay in the West, just to be closer to family, but I'm happy anywhere," Bauman said. "It's hard to believe. I thought I'd have a chance of playing pro, but not going this high.

"It's exciting, just knowing I came from nine-man and didn't really know much about football up until university."

Bauman, 22, joined the Rams in 2002. Manitoba Bisons head coach Brian Dobie still refers to Bauman as the one that got away.

Bauman took a year off to play junior football with the Winnipeg Rifles in 2003, but he returned to Regina in 2004 and his career took off.

He led the CIS last fall with 923 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions on 42 catches. The former Ram to whom Bauman is often compared, Jason Clermont, had season-high totals of 807 yards, 11 touchdowns and 41 receptions in Regina.


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