Argos take Keeping in draft

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Jeff Keeping didn't earn an invitation to the Canadian Football League's pre-draft combine this year, but that didn't scare off the Toronto Argonauts one bit.

The Grey Cup champs selected the 22-year-old Western all-star tight end and Mustangs offensive captain in the second round (18th overall) of yesterday's Canadian college draft. Keeping, a six-foot-six Uxbridge native, went to Argos games at the SkyDome as a lad.

"I was glued to the Internet to see what would happen. The logistics (of Toronto) are perfect," he said. "I was a little worried after not getting a chance to go to the combine and show what I could do. But I worked out for the Argos and knew they were interested. To go to the defending Grey Cup champs is a great feeling."

It's the highest a Western player has been selected since centre Tim Bakker went in the first round to Edmonton in 2000. The Mustangs have had at least one player picked in every CFL draft since 1989.

With the first overall pick, the Calgary Stampeders took Laval defensive tackle Miguel Robede, a six-foot-three, 288-pounder who was instrumental in the Rouge et Or winning the 2004 Vanier Cup title.

The Ottawa Renegades made a surprise selection at No. 2 by taking six-foot, 224-pound Akron linebacker Cam Yeow, a Surrey, B.C. native. The Saskatchewan Roughriders had the next two picks, taking Matt O'Meara, a six-foot-five, 280-pound offensive lineman from McMaster at No. 3 before selecting Chris Best, a six-foot-five, 305-pound offensive lineman from Duke, with the fourth pick.

Mac star running back Jesse Lumsden, who signed as a free agent with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks last week, went sixth overall to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It's believed his position (tailback, which is normally a spot filled by an American veteran player) and availability (following his NFL signing) dropped Lumsden from the top five spots.

Western head coach Larry Haylor said he received a lot of calls about Keeping, who recorded eight catches for 102 yards last year but missed part of his fourth university season with an injured knee.

"The CFL doesn't normally use a tight end so if he's to make it, it'll be as an offensive lineman," Haylor said. "We had him at guard in (Western) spring camp and he was outstanding. He has gained 30 pounds (and currently weighs in at 275 pounds). He's bench-pressing 375 pounds so he's a big, strong player who can also run a 4.95 (40-yard dash)."

Keeping, an Ontario university all-star the past two seasons who also played in last year's Canadian university East-West Bowl, will attend Toronto's training camp in a month. If he doesn't stick with the big club, he'll return to Western for his fifth and final year of eligibility in the fall -- this time as a guard.

"I talked to Toronto GM Greg Mohns and I know if I work hard, there's some opportunities there," he said. "But I'm excited to go back to Western, too, because we've built an awesome offensive line. It's going to be something."

The third Canadian university East-West Bowl, which will feature Western receiver Andy Fantuz, running back Randy McAuley and defensive lineman Tom Dolezel, is scheduled to be held in Waterloo on Sunday, May 15.


Videos

Photos