Boatmen sign Crouch

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Eric Crouch is finally an Argo, but the question is for how long and whether he'll be able to make it as a starter.

Crouch agreed to a two-year contract and a club option for a third year -- it's believed the Argos wanted a three-year deal with an option -- but general manager Adam Rita hopes the deal will extend another five or 10 years beyond the first contract.

Crouch, the 2001 Heisman Trophy winner out of the University of Nebraska, will get an opportunity in the professional ranks as a quarterback prospect after principally playing other positions in stints in the NFL and NFL Europe.

"I'm very happy and excited for this opportunity," he said in a conference call yesterday.

"For me it has been a long time coming. I feel like I've got a lot of energy to play this game. I'm getting an opportunity to have a great career. It has been an up and down roller-coaster ride and I feel like this is a secure place for me. I'm excited to be an Argo. It has been close to happening for a lot of years, but for whatever reason it hasn't. This is kind of a relief."

The Argos have had Crouch's negotiation rights on and off since 2000 and have told him the past three years that they'd give him a chance to compete as a quarterback.

"This is what I am, a quarterback," he said. "If I'm going to play football, this is (the position) where it needs to be; where I'm most comfortable; where I can relate to a team. The different positions at times didn't meet my expectations of playing quarterback."

The 27-year-old's biggest challenge heading into this season, beyond acclimating to a new league and some different rules, will be trying to unseat projected starter Damon Allen. Allen heads into his 22nd season in the CFL -- and fourth with the Argos -- fresh off a season in which he was named the league's most outstanding player. He hopes to play through to the end of the 2007 season.

"Damon Allen is obviously the starting quarterback, but I'm coming in with the mind-set that I want to be a starter," Crouch said. "I'm going to come and compete for a job, and if it's as a backup that's where it is ... I'm excited to have (Damon) there. It's going to be a big boost for me."


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