Canuck hopefuls will sweat it out

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Mike Labinjo, Brett Romberg and Kerry Carter all know what this year's class of Canadian NFL hopefuls will be feeling today and tomorrow. And it isn't necessarily fun. Those three sweated out the draft without getting picked before eventually landing on NFL rosters as free-agent signees -- Carter with Seattle and Romberg with Jacksonville in 2003 and Labinjo last year with the NFC-champion Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's a tough day, no question about it," Carter told NFLCanada.com. "Everyone has a theory about when or if you might get picked, but all you can do as a player is stay glued to the television with your stomach in knots."

The free-agent route is the scenario most likely awaiting McMaster University star running back Jesse Lumsden. While Lumsden is the most celebrated of the four Canadians with a shot, he's not necessarily the most likely to be selected.

That status is shared by offensive lineman Nick Kaczur of Brantford and O.J. Atogwe, a safety from Windsor. A fourth prospect, Quebec-born long-snapper, Louis Phillip Ladouceur, is a long-shot at getting picked in the seven-round draft.

Kaczur, who played NCAA ball at Toledo, is projected to be selected somewhere between Rounds 3 and 5.

Ditto for Atogwe, a safety from Stanford who is billed by the official NFL scouting report as "one of the best-kept secrets in college football."

Among Canadian football fans, there will be great interest in Lumsden, who obliterated CIS rushing records while at Mac. The back doesn't appear in any U.S. draft previews, however, and was shunned from the NFL combine for top prospects. He did shine in the East-West Shrine Game, rushing for 41 yards on five carries, and impressed scouts at a private workout last month.

"I felt fast and hopefully I looked fast," Lumsden told the Sun afterwards. "I'm feeling confident about my workout."

Lumsden has attracted interest from a number of NFL teams including Indianapolis, Seattle, Carolina and St. Louis.

The Burlington native would be just the ninth CIS player selected by an NFL team and is also considered one of the top prospects for next week's CFL draft.

"The part of me that is the Hamilton Ticats coach would love to see him stay up here," said Greg Marshall, who coached Lumsden at Mac.

"But I know Jesse and I know he'd love to get the opportunity to go down there and do well."


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