Mitchell looks out for No. 1

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 AM ET

OTTAWA - If projections hold true, Scott Mitchell will happily become a Winnipeg Blue Bomber Saturday.

The Montreal-born, Ottawa-bred, Rice University-schooled offensive lineman is No. 1 on the CFL Scouting Bureau's final rankings, and it's a distinction he wears proudly.

"That would be amazing," the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Mitchell said of being picked first overall. "That's something I could carry around with me the rest of my life. That would just be a blessing.

"It's an honour that the scouting bureau and the coaches and all them like me that much as a player, they respect as a player that I can come on to their team and I can perform at the next level. It's just really great to be noticed."

Another Ottawa product, University of Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Holmes, has also been noticed. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Merivale High School graduate is ranked No. 5.

Mitchell, who moved to the nation's capital on his 11th birthday, played for coach Paul Brown at St. Mark in Manotick. They were valuable years in his development.

"At St. Mark's, they were able to play me on offence and defence," said Mitchell. "Coach Brown was willing to do that for me, so that helped me out a lot, because growing up, for the most of my life, I played defence.

"(There) I slowly transitioned to the offensive line. I kind of did that on my own, looking at the CFL, and the ratio and the numbers game ... seeing how that stuff works. I figured I'd have a better chance to play offensive line. It was still high school ball. I wanted to have as much fun as I could. So he gave me the freedom to also play on defence.

"He was a very knowledgeable head coach," Mitchell added of his mentor.

"He's also a great person. He's a councillor at the school as well. He's just a good man."

Mitchell also remains close to many of his former high school teammates.

"Just being out there with the boys, they're all good lads," he said of his memory. "Still in touch with most of them really. It's surprising, I keep in touch with them more than some of my Rice former teammates. They're always fired up and rowdy to see me when I come home. They always support me, show me love. They'll probably be my friends for the rest of my life, those guys."

Mitchell's game developed dramatically in the U.S., but his college career ended on a sour note when he suffered a broken foot in his senior year to end a string of 38 consecutive starts as the Owls' left tackle.

At the CFL's evaluation camp, Mitchell showed that he's now healthy, plus that he has the versatility to play all five offensive line positions.

"Coming down here (to Rice in Houston), it was a big change for me," said Mitchell. "Luckily, I went to a high school that had a good football team, but it was nothing as serious as it was down here. Down here it's a business. You're coming to work every day. It just helped me mature as a football player and as a man, helped me head in the right direction and it's got me to where I am now."

Now Mitchell, who had Renegades season tickets and attended the 2004 Grey Cup game at Frank Clair Stadium between B.C. and Toronto, is quite content to spend his career in his home country.

"Growing up, my dream was to play professional football," he said. "I was a big fan of the CFL as a kid. I remember going to the games and watching it.

"If that's where I'm meant to be, that's where I'm meant to be. I'll totally embrace that and I'll be ready to play."


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