Broncos draft Canadian in the fourth

Philip Blake, of the Baylor Bears, will now play with Peyton Manning in Denver. Photo courtesy of...

Philip Blake, of the Baylor Bears, will now play with Peyton Manning in Denver. Photo courtesy of Baylor University

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:08 PM ET

NEW YORK - Toronto's Philip Blake is used to snapping footballs to a legendary quarterback. In college, with RG3.

Now he's going to do it in the NFL. With Peyton Manning.

As starting centre at Baylor University the past two years, the 6-foot-2, 315-pound Blake snapped balls to Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick Thursday at the NFL draft.

Now Blake will compete for the chance to do be the centre for Manning, one of the greatest QBs in NFL history.

Manning's new team, the Denver Broncos, selected Blake in the NFL draft early Saturday afternoon here at Radio City Music Hall.

Blake was Denver's fourth-round selection, 108th overall — the third centre taken.

Some experts didn't see Blake being picked until a bit later on Saturday, in the late rounds (5-7).

When reached by phone just minutes afterward, Blake sounded as calm and laid-back as ever.

"I feel really good," he said from Waco, Texas, where he has lived for the past three years while attending Baylor.

"I was just sitting here, relaxing, waiting for the call."

It was Broncos owner Pat Bowlen who phoned him, Blake said.

Born in Wisconsin, Bowlen has owned the Broncos since 1984. He spent years as a successful lawyer in Edmonton and remains fond of his time in Canada, and of Canadians.

"Oh really? I don't think he said that," Blake.

Former star Broncos quarterback John Elway, now executive vice-president of football operations for the club, also spoke with Blake on Saturday afternoon.

"He said congratulations on being a Bronco," Blake said. "Coach John Fox also talked to me and congratulated me."

At 26, is one of the oldest players taken in this year's draft. Blake's post-secondary route to the NFL was slow, circuitous and unlikely.

After graduating from Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School in the Toronto west-end community of Etobicoke, Blake played two years at Champlain Regional College in Lennoxville, Que., then one season at Tyler Junior College in Tyler in Tyler, Texas. From there, finally, he got a scholarship at Baylor U in Waco.

Blake explained why he was so laid back just minutes after finding out the news he'd been working so hard to get for six long years.

"I was shaken by it, I think," he said. "Maybe it hasn't hit me yet."

Blake's stepfather, Orlando Shaw, is a huge Steelers fan, and told Blake before the draft he'd still have to root for Pittsburgh when his team played the yellow-and-black. Blake hadn't yet spoken with Shaw when we talked to him.

Blakes mother, Patricia Blake, and cousin Courtney Hudon were with him when the Broncos called.

"Oh, they cried," Blake said. "We all cried."

Blake was the second Canadian taken in the draft, after Tyrone Crawford of Windsor, Ont., on Friday night. Crawford was the third-round pick, 81st overall, of the Dallas Cowboys.

An American-born player, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, played his college ball at the University of Regina and was taken by the New Orleans Saints late in the third round, 89th overall.

 


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