December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
It is a question Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans can ask now, knowing full well there is snow on the ground and that a whole lot could change before training camp opens in just over five months:
Is Justin Goltz next?
The Bombers announced Friday the signing of the 6-5, 25-year-old quarterback, along with two other pending free agents in running backs Chris Garrett and Carl Volny. Now, while Goltz's Canadian Football League experience is limited to 14 passes and 30 games dressing primarily as the clipboard caddie, his return isn't simply about making sure there are enough arms to fill up the depth chart.
No, ask around the Bomber organization and there is a real sense Goltz's time has come. And with the uncertainty that currently surrounds the position -- Buck Pierce's injury woes, rumours of Joey Elliott being shopped and Alex Brink's incomplete grade -- Goltz's chance to grab the gig, barring a big splash in free agency or a trade, is nothing short of glorious.
And he knows it.
"That was one of most intriguing things about coming back to Winnipeg," Goltz said in a phone interview from San Diego. "Not only is it a great place, but that opportunity is right there. It's mine for the taking.
"Buck is a great guy and I don't want to take away what he's done on the field but it's no secret he's had a tough time staying healthy and it's led to a lot of inconsistencies for us as a team. I mean, it's tough for a team to cope with a guy being in and out...
"The job is there for the taking and whether they bring in a free agent or whether it's the guys we competed with last year, I'm confident that now I've signed and they've committed to me that the opportunity is there."
And that, in a nutshell, is part of what makes Goltz such an interesting option for the Bombers. Grounded and humble, he also exudes a quiet confidence that quickly bubbles to the surface.
But it's his physical skill set that most impresses the Bomber brass: A good arm and mobility, coupled with an overall athleticism that could be a good fit for the three-down game.
"I would compare myself with what Colin Kaepernick is doing with the (San Francisco) 49ers," said Goltz. "He's a great young player with a great arm and he can make plays when necessary. I feel like that's the kind of play I can bring to the CFL.
"I'm going into this camp with a completely different mindset than I have in the past couple of years. In the past my first goal was to make the roster. This year, nothing is given and I don't want to be naive enough to think that just because I signed a contract I'm going to be slated as the No. 2 guy or the No. 1 guy."
So, again, is Justin Goltz next?
Well, he thinks he's ready and, clearly, so do the Bombers. Still, there is also obviously a huge risk in hitching a wagon to such an unknown. He knows it, you know it, the Bombers know it.
"You're given one shot," said Goltz. "That's the nature of the business and when you get your opportunity you have to do something with it or else you might not be around much longer."
Finally, Goltz was asked about some of the big developments in his life over the last calendar year: he was married in March -- he and his wife are expecting their first child next April -- and now he's got a fresh, new deal with the Bombers and a real shot at the starter's gig.
"Life is coming at me pretty fast right now," he said with a chuckle. "But it's been great and I wouldn't change it for the world."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WFPEdTait
Blue to-do list
The Blue Bombers still have some players they would like to extend and pending free agents they'd kill to lock up before the end of the calendar year, to allow for chunks of that money to count toward the 2012 cap. Here are their remaining eight players who would become free agents in February:
DT Bryant Turner: The club's lone CFL all-star in 2012.
DB Jonathan Hefney: CFL all-star in 2011, led team in tackles this past season.
DE Jason Vega: Had five sacks in 15 games this year.
LB Marcellus Bowman: 52 tackles, two sacks and an interception despite missing five games.
WR Clarence Denmark: His numbers were down last year -- 54 catches for 620 yards and one TD.
DB Johnny Sears: Versatile DB/linebacker who led the team with three picks.
DE Fernand Kashama: Four-year CFL vet, part-time starter, Canadian.
DB Deon Beasley: His playing time decreased significantly in 2012.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2012 C5