Second kick at the can

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

It's the same at every Blue Bomber training camp: there are players simply trying to land work, and then there are those trying to fulfil a dream.

Mark down Don Oramasionwu as a little of both.

As the only Winnipegger taking part in rookie camp, Donnie-O, as he's known, grew up with visions of wearing blue and gold dancing in his head.

Unlike most kids, he set his life on that course, and is right on track.

"I've always thought sometime I'd be playing pro football," Oramasionwu said yesterday. "It's a dream. But in a way, I've been waiting for it my whole life, too."

A fifth-round draft pick a year ago, Oramasionwu (pronounced Or-ah-mah-see-ON') became a star lineman at the University of Manitoba, earning Canada West all-star status last year.

And while this is his second Bomber training camp, it's miles from his first.

"I know exactly what I'm walking into, exactly what drills we're going to do," he said. "Last year I had a rough time my first few days."

No longer could he simply overpower offensive linemen, like he'd done in college. He had to develop different moves, and mix things up. Outsmart them.

The man who helped him along was D-line coach Richard Harris.

"He wasn't angry about it," Oramasionwu said. "He was encouraging me. That helped a lot. My confidence was so low back then. To have a guy like that helping me, I'll never forget that."

Back working with Harris again, Oramasionwu turned 23 yesterday.

As for the ultimate birthday present, that could come later in the month.

"Make this team," he said of his goal. "And learn from guys like Doug Brown and big Tyrone Williams. I'm the luckiest guy, to have those two guys in front of me. Two all-stars. My goal is to make this team and learn."

STANDING OUT: If rookie camp means anything, defensive back Brady Browne, Oramasionwu's former teammate at the U of M, has a leg up on the competition.

Head coach Mike Kelly says Browne has been a standout through two days.

"I don't want to get overly excited at this stage," Kelly said. "Let's see what happens when the other guys get in. But there's no question he has a passion for making this club right now. And that's what we're looking for."

Kelly says players like Browne and Oramasionwu, with their local roots, are in many ways what the CFL is all about.

"Going back to the old days of Stan Mikawos and Chris Walby, it's important to have those local guys here," Kelly said. "That's part of the Canadian Football League culture. The more we can find and the better they get developed, the better off we'll be."

COMING CLEAN: The Bombers finally made official the signing of running back Ramonce Taylor, first reported back in April.

Taylor, expected to report on Sunday, comes with serious college credentials, and no small amount of baggage.

He helped the University of Texas win a national championship in 2005, scoring 15 touchdowns that season, including one in the Rose Bowl.

But a drug possession charge ruined his chances of being drafted by the NFL. And a parole violation landed him in jail last year.

Taylor played one game in AFL2 this year.

TICKET SALES LAGGING: Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer told a league-sponsored conference call that season ticket sales are down 5% from last season, due to the recession and "a lot of people with a wait-and-see attitude."

Sales were at 17,039 yesterday.

"I understand the apprehension of some of our fan base," Kelly said on the call. "But we're very optimistic we're doing the right things."


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