Blue search for diamonds in the rough

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:44 AM ET

Ken Moll was back pounding the pavement Monday after four years away from the scouting game.

It was Day 1 of a two-week journey through the southeastern U.S. that he hopes will locate topnotch talent for his new employer, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Hopefully you can find one guy that just all of a sudden explodes on the scene and you’re a hero for finding the guy and all that, but that doesn’t happen too often,” the team’s player personnel director said from behind the wheel of his car, which was on an Alabama highway.

“(But) there’ll be somebody coming out of our efforts in the spring here that will contribute — I really believe that — in a big way.”

Moll will spend the next two weeks visiting college campuses and checking out pro and semi-pro talent. He and GM Joe Mack got a head start over the weekend when they invited 40 players to take part in a “targeted” free-agent camp in Greensboro, N.C.

“There were plenty of guys that couldn’t play, but there were some that will help us in the future,” he said, adding there’s a chance the Blue and Gold will sign a couple players who took part.

Moll isn’t a big believer in traditional free-agent camps, where anyone can plunk down $100 and run the 40-yard dash.

“I don’t know how productive that would be,” he said, although he didn’t rule them out in the future.

Moll is brand new to the CFL game, so he spent the past month getting adjusted. Not only are CFL players different from their NFL counterparts, but now he needs to find the best of the rest.

“You don’t want to just take a guy so you can fill a roster spot,” Moll said. “So in a lot of ways it’s tougher. With the best of the best, you know there’s a pool of people out there and you just go after them.

“I’ve been on the phone with literally 40 or 50 colleges just in the last four weeks and I’ve got a lot of good information, but sifting through that is another thing.”

Moll, 54, will do most of his work for the Bombers from his home in Louisville, Ky., save for his scouting trips. He plans to visit Winnipeg for the first time next month and has been busy trying to learn as much as he can about the Manitoba capital.

“I’m looking forward to being involved with the club and with the community,” said Moll, a former college linebacker and assistant coach.

Moll spent 11 years as a scout for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, where he had a hand in securing Tony Boselli and Kevin Hardy, and the Cleveland Browns. He joined ESPN four years ago as part of its NFL coverage team, where his duties included writing game matchups and analyzing free agents.

In his new job with the Bombers, Moll won’t simply be supplying head coach Paul LaPolice and his staff with players. He wants it to be a total team effort.

“That’s the way I look at it as a personnel guy,” he said. “Some people do not look at it that way, but I think they kind of go hand in hand.

“That’s the coach in me. I coached for 15 years, so I know those guys work really hard and they know what they want. It’s always good to be on the same page.”

LATE HITS: The Montreal Alouettes re-signed defensive end Gavin Walls on Monday after releasing him last week. The Als acquired Walls from the Bombers on Feb. 26, but they cut him to get out of paying a bonus … The Alouettes also signed former Toronto quarterback Cody Pickett and offensive lineman Skip Seagraves, who was released by the Als earlier in the off-season … Defensive tackle Eddie Steele and running back Matt Henry of the Manitoba Bisons will take part in the CFL’s evaluation camp this weekend in Toronto. The draft is May 2.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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