Roller-coaster ride for Bomber

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 PM ET

How does someone go from being the CFL’s 10th-ranked prospect to not being drafted in the span of five months?

Let Deji Oduwole count the ways.

For starters, the Canadian defensive end’s draft status took a hit when he let it be known that he was returning for his fifth season at the University of Calgary in the fall of 2009.

He was also a bit of a tweener, meaning he was small for a defensive lineman.

Then when his performance at the annual CFL combine wasn’t exactly what you would call good, well, that was that.

And even though Oduwole said he was hearing “good things” the day before the 2009 draft, not a single team called his name.

It didn’t knock him down.

It fired him up.

“It really humbled me,” said Oduwole, now three games into his pro career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. “I was told that I really had to improve my game. The things that I thought I was doing that were right, they weren’t there yet.”

So Oduwole, who went from 10th on the CFL Canadian Scouting Bureau list in November 2008 to undrafted five months later, went to Houston last summer to improve his skills, working out with, among others, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Saskatchewan’s Shomari Williams.

Oduwole, whose hails from Coquitlam, B.C., returned to the Dinos last fall and recorded 31 tackles, five and a half tackles for a loss and four sacks in 11 games as the Dinos made it all the way to the Vanier Cup.

Oduwole had a big role in that, even though he could have played the ‘woe is me’ card after his draft day disappointment.

“It’s easy to be frustrated and heartbroken, but you have to persevere through all that,” Oduwole said. “I could’ve easily just put my head down and gone through the season like, ‘Nobody wants me anymore.’

“But I knew what I’d done and what the coaches were saying to me before, that I would have another chance.”

That opportunity has come with the Bombers, who were impressed enough with the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder during camp that he has dressed for all three games this season. He’s even platooning on the defensive line, where he has two tackles and would have had his first forced fumble on Friday in Hamilton had the CFL not made the wrong call.

“He has a good motor, had a very good training camp, and he’s running to the ball well and performed,” head coach Paul LaPolice said. “You need some depth at Canadian defensive end, and he’s been able to make some plays on special teams. He’s worked hard.”

From up to down to back up again, the 22-year-old who puts tremendous value on family just can’t stop smiling these days.

“Everything worked out perfectly, because Winnipeg’s one of the best places to play,” Oduwole said. “One of the best fan bases I’ve ever seen in my life. Going to Rods Field and seeing people in the stands, that blows my mind. I would never even think about that.

“… Things really just fell into place for me. I can’t really complain. I’m just so happy and so blessed at what happened.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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