DOWDELL MISSES PLAYING FOOTBALL
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 - 11:00AM
By Darrell Davis,
Unlike most of the hopefuls attending the Saskatchewan Roughriders' free-agent workout today at the EventPlex, former Michigan State quarterback Damon Dowdell carried a big-college pedigree on his two-day trip to Regina.
"I want to get back in the mix,'' Dowdell said via cellphone while awaiting an airplane Monday in Calgary. "I missed everything about the game: The smells, the work, being with the other guys at practices and games.
"I've been waiting all year for this. They were thinking about bringing me in last year, so now I'm really excited.''
About 20 players -- primarily local products -- had pre-registered for today's workouts, slated for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Regina Exhibition Park. Dowdell was the only quarterback.
The prospects will be watched by members of the Roughriders' staff, including head coach/assistant general manager Danny Barrett. It's a long-odds opportunity for unheralded players from these parts to join the community-owned CFL franchise before training camp opens May 21 at the University of Regina.
For Dowdell, it's a chance to play professionally.
Dowdell, 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, came to camp at the insistence of Ventson Donelson, a former Roughriders defensive back and Michigan State alumnus who still lives in Regina. Donelson also attended Henry Ford High School in Detroit, where Dowdell later played. Their travel arrangements put Dowdell on a train Sunday from Detroit to London, then to Toronto's airport Monday.
"I've been working out, working at real estate and going to camps,'' said Dowdell, 22. "There have been some (Arena Football League) teams interested: I worked out with the Grand Rapids Rampage five times; the San Jose SaberCats took me down there for four days; and the (Columbus) Destroyers were interested.
"It was kind of difficult making the adjustment to arena ball. I think I can do all the things they need in Canadian football, throwing, running, throwing on the run.''
At Michigan State, Dowdell was caught in the quarterback shuffling that plagued the Spartans during the end of Bobby Williams' tenure as head coach and the start of John L. Smith's campaign. Dowdell red-shirted as a freshman and was later waylaid by sub-par marks in his criminal justice classes, but he started five games as a senior before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, ultimately completing 66 of 114 passes for 657 yards with six interceptions and four touchdowns. He also ran six times for 120 yards.
"I've seen and heard of him,'' said Roughriders general manager Roy Shivers. "I remember who he is, but I haven't seen any film on him in a while. (Barrett) will make the decision on him if he's in town.''
Dowdell also attended a workout last year for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders, who told him they were looking for experienced quarterbacks; that's about when they lured free-agent pivot Henry Burris away from Saskatchewan. Although he hasn't played since 2004, Dowdell insists he has remained in terrific shape since getting married in May; he and wife Karla are expecting their first child.
"(Playing at Michigan State) taught me to deal with adversity,'' said Dowdell. "It was up and down while I was there: Getting situated, having a new coaching staff, learning a new offence and getting a new offensive co-ordinator. They had their minds made up, but I changed their minds and started the first game of the season.
"Now I've got to show I can do all the things to help the team win. First things first, but I want to be invited to training camp.''
what do you think, will he be any good? and what other playes have the Riders signed?