HERB ZURKOWSKY, The Gazette
Published: Saturday, May 03, 2008
For the second consecutive year, the Alouettes have drafted someone who's unlikely to make a career out of playing pro football.
This year, if it's any consolation, at least it wasn't their first-round pick.
The Als selected South Carolina offensive-lineman Gurminder Thind in the fourth round (32nd overall) of Wednesday's Canadian college draft. One problem: Thind missed spring practice with a back injury, prompting Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier to recently state the player's career is "probably" over.
This has led to some disparaging remarks from other Canadian Football League teams.
"They took him as a future pick, but they might as well have drafted a dead guy," said one front-office executive.
At least one other CFL team called the school and was aware of Thind's injury. "With all the other players that were available, I disagree with that choice, from a common-sense point of view," another executive said.
Als assistant general manager Marcel Desjardins, however, said the organization was aware of Thind's injury, but felt it was worth the gamble.
"According to Spurrier, he's suffering from a bulging disc. People have played with that. Does it require surgery? In a lot of cases, it doesn't," Desjardins said.
"We know he's hurt and has been hurt. But we didn't know for sure the extent of the injury. Being that it was in the fourth round, we thought it was worth taking the gamble because he was available. His upside's better than most players you would get in the fourth round."
Last year, when Desjardins wasn't with Montreal, the Als selected Calgary offensive-tackle Richard Yalowsky seventh overall, although he was coming off a severe knee injury. Subsequent to that, Yalowsky has told the organization he'll pursue a career in engineering rather than play football, according to sources.
Thind, meanwhile, is a talented player. According to a source, the 6-foot-4, 281-pound native of Mississauga, Ont., would have been a first-round draft choice if healthy.
"In later rounds like that, he's a good risk," the source said. "I would have done the same thing. He has the potential, if healthy, to be a star."
But Thind, 24, isn't healthy.
Thind, who can play guard or tackle, started the first two games of South Carolina's 2006 season before suffering a right foot injury that required season-ending surgery. He had three starts in 2007 and played four games before re-aggravating an injury to his left ankle.
Thind would be a fifth-year senior this fall at South Carolina, but the Gamecocks are expected to seek a medical-hardship waiver for the oft-injured Canadian, who earned the most-improved offensive-lineman award in the spring of 2006.
Desjardins said Als management has yet to speak to the prospect. Because Thind has eligibility remaining, Desjardins said the school won't provide the CFL team with any contact information.
"When you draft a junior, it's always a bit of a crapshoot," Desjardins said. "Sometimes you've got to roll the dice. It's not the first time we've done it, and it won't be the last.
"We figured this was the best-case scenario."
Notes - New Als head coach Marc Trestman completed his staff yesterday with the hiring of Andy Bischoff and Jean-Marc Edmé. Bischoff, a U.S. college veteran, will coach running-backs and serve as Montreal's offensive quality-control coach. Edmé will be the defensive quality-control coach. ... Als rookies will be on the field at training camp for the first time May 29, while veterans begin practising June email@example.com