Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Briggs brings familiar style to Blue

McGill defender plays a little like his new coach once did

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He's quick. He's smart. He's a linebacker. He's Canadian. And, oh yeah, he loves busting guys up on special teams.

If you were wondering why the Winnipeg Blue Bombers traded a pair of third-round picks in Tuesday's CFL Draft in order to move up to the second round and draft McGill's Jesse Briggs, it's because Briggs sounds a lot like a younger version of Winnipeg head coach Mike O'Shea.

The parallels between Briggs' present and O'Shea's past weren't lost on the former as he pondered his new future as a professional football player on Wednesday.

"I'm super excited to get an opportunity to play for Coach O'Shea," Briggs said in a phone interview from his home in Montreal. "He's one of the best ever to play for sure. And he coached special teams in Toronto and I know that's what they're going to give me an opportunity to come in and do right away.

"To have that guy as a mentor -- you couldn't ask for more than that."

Bombers GM Kyle Walters said Tuesday the Bombers were pleasantly surprised to see Briggs was still available late in the second round and they leapt at the chance to trade their 20th and 26th picks to Saskatchewan for the chance to select Briggs 17th.

"We were looking for some depth at linebacker and on special teams," said Walters.

"He's a phenomenal athlete."

And a smart one, too. They don't accept dummies at McGill and Briggs is finishing his third year in the faculty of education. He says he'd be only too happy to put that education on hold to pursue a pro football career.

So, what can Bombers fans expect to see when he shows up at training camp June 1?

"I can run really fast... one of my strengths is speed. And I'm a cerebral player. I'm a McGill guy, a smart guy, a film junkie. I think I bring a lot of tools to the team.

"And I'm a hard worker, too."

Briggs says his natural position is at strong-side linebacker.

-- -- --

The Vancouver Province's Lowell Ulrich reported Wednesday that B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono offered the Bombers the fifth and 12th overall picks in Tuesday's draft in exchange for Winnipeg's second-overall selection. Ulrich says the Lions intended to use Winnipeg's pick the same way the Bombers ultimately did -- to select Simon Fraser offensive lineman Matthias Goossen.

The Bombers declined Buono's offer.

-- -- --

He's a Canadian who has played all his football in Canada. And yet the last time Goossen actually played the Canadian version of the game, he says he was just a kid.

B.C. high schools, like the one Goossen attended in Richmond, play American rules, with the shorter and narrower field and four downs. And Simon Fraser also plays American football as the first international member of the NCAA.

Goossen admits he will have a similar learning curve coming to training camp in Winnipeg next month as a player who is used to playing the U.S. version of football.

"I think there will be," Goossen said. "I haven't played Canadian ball since I was like eight years old. But I think if I work hard at it and start mastering the nuances of the Canadian game, that will really help.

"Obviously, there's a big difference. But I think the biggest difference will be from the university to the pro level, rather than from the American to the Canadian game. Obviously, the speed of the pro level isn't something I think you can even prepare for. It just sort of happens."

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2014 D5

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