Wroten finally joins Argos
By Terry Koshan, QMI Agency
|Claude Wroten finally joined the Argonauts on Sunday after weeks of passport issues left him cooling his heels at home in Bastrop, La. (PHELAN M. EBENHACK/STR/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - Claude Wroten’s biography in the Argonauts’ training camp media guide tells us that the defensive tackle enjoys watching movies, listening to music and playing video games.
While that could describe any other football player, let alone any professional athlete, the Argos figure they have something a little more special in Wroten, who finally joined the Boatmen on Sunday after weeks of passport issues left him cooling his heels at home in Bastrop, La.
Wroten will be on the field for practice on Monday and the Argos plan to use him on Thursday in the pre-season game in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers.
“(The wait) is worth it,” Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. “He knows what our calls are, the basics of what we are doing. He will get clued in quickly.”
The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Wroten was a beast, to put it bluntly, during the Argos’ free-agent camp in Florida in April, and the coaching staff was enamoured. He threw offensive linemen around like dolls, and though the challenges will be greater in actual games, there’s no doubting Wroten’s confidence.
“I know I will not be a weak link on the defensive line at all,” Wroten said. “True, I’m a couple of weeks behind, but I am a quick learner. Once I hear and see it, I got it, it’s like clockwork. It will not take me long to get acclimated to the system, so I can come in right away and be dominant.”
To say Wroten has seen a lot in his 27 years would be selling his life story short. The Toronto Sun documented Wroten’s hazy past during the camp in Florida, with Wroten recounting his marijuana-smoking days that ruined his career in the National Football League. Though the team has said that some traffic tickets helped tie up Wroten’s passport, his past with drugs was laid bare with customs agents as he fought to get across the border.
“I had to let them know I was clean-cut and free and clear to play, which I am,” Wroten, a third-round pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2006, said. “I had to put it out there. I have no type of legal deals going on, no court cases.”
On top of his passport woes, Wroten mentally was floored when his dad, Claude Wroten Sr., died in the first week of May. His father was recovering after having his left leg removed because of gangrene and passed away suddenly after a heart attack.
“My best friend, he taught me everything,” Wroten, who roomed with the Argos’ Ejiro Kuale at Louisiana State, said. “He instilled values and to see him pass took me for a loop.”
If all settles as Barker hopes, Wroten and Kevin Huntley will form an inside wall on the defensive line. Barker is not worried that part of Wroten’s past — the drug issues — will become a problem again.
“Everybody knows I failed a couple of drug tests with marijuana and people will have doubts, is he still doing it?” Wroten said. “I’m going to let my performance speak for itself.
“I have a lot of years left. This year I feel is going to be one my best seasons ever. I’m more motivated after going through the things I did, being suspended by the NFL. I’m in the prime of my life.”