The Beat: Gonzo gunning for spot in CFL

By Andy Vogt/Daily News staff
Posted Mar 16, 2008 @ 10:00 PM

Over a year after playing his final college football game, Tony Gonzalez has the opportunity to resurrect his career.

The former Framingham and Boston College star receiver will head north of the border at the end of this month to showcase his skills at a tryout with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. It's his second crack at the CFL, after previously attending an open tryout with the Edmonton Eskimos.

The ball got rolling a few weeks back when several of Gonzalez's friends, including former BC roommate and current Stampeder Kevin Challenger, attempted to spread the word of his interest. Since the offer came, he's been working out at the BC Bubble with renowned strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle, who Gonzalez has known since his junior year of high school.

His training regimen is what you'd expect, with drills normally run at the NFL Combine: the vertical jump, the 40-yard dash, the shuttle run. He's also been throwing with another name you might recognize - Bellingham's Ricky Santos.

"I'm excited, I haven't been around football this past year," said Gonzalez. "I'm kinda anxious to get back out there and compete with those guys and see where I'm at."

Gonzalez finished off his terrific Eagles career with 43 receptions for 491 yards and five touchdowns in 2006, leaving him with career marks of 1,187 yards and 12 touchdowns.

At its most basic, the CFL is similar to its American counterpart, although the rules differences are wide, starting with the field.

Luckily for Gonzalez, he was able to learn the sport even while in college. Challenger, Calgary's second-round draft pick this year, is a Montreal native and a lifelong fan of the league.

"When I watch the tapes, he goes through it with me and shows me all the differences," said Gonzalez, who has several other former teammates currently playing in the CFL, including Ryan Glasper, a defensive back for the Hamilton TigerCats.

After graduating from BC with a degree in communications, Gonzalez began substitute teaching at Keefe Tech, although he hopes to eventually earn a position in the New Beginnings program at the school, which helps at-risk youths move toward the right path.

"It's what I wanted to do after football's all over - it's what I enjoy," Gonzalez said. He's also hoping to eventually pick up coaching, and has spoken of the possibility with Framingham coach Gary Doherty and new Keefe coach Jay Godino, a former American Legion baseball teammate.

Fortunately, football isn't over just yet. Now, it's only a matter of learning what a rouge is.