Bombers willing to wait

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hope the old saying is true: good things come to those who wait.

With the third overall pick in Tuesday’s 2021 CFL Draft, the Blue and Gold selected Texas State University offensive lineman Liam Dobson. The Ottawa native, a 23-year-old who stands at 6-3 and weighs 340 pounds, spent the past three seasons at the University of Maine. In 2019, Dobson was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) first team and voted Maine’s top offensive lineman, but he was unable to repeat that feat in 2020 as the Black Bears had their season cancelled owing to the pandemic. Dobson recently transferred to Texas State and will play his senior season for the Bobcats this fall, meaning the earliest he’ll be at IG Field is in 2022.

But if you ask Dobson, he’s worth the wait.

“You know, when I come up there, I’m going to come in with a mentality that we’re going to win games and we’re going to win championships,” said Dobson in a conference call.

“I’m going to come in with an attitude and I’m going to be a young guy, the new guy, and I’m going to assert myself in that locker room. I’m going to show that (I mean) business and we’re going to go out (and play) physical football and that’s going to put us in an opportunity to win games.”

It was a bit of a gamble by Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters. Dobson won’t be able to contribute to the club in 2021 and there’s no guarantee that he ever will as a key reason for him wanting to transfer to Texas State to play his final NCAA season is to make a bigger name for himself in hopes of landing an NFL opportunity. Dobson said he likes to approach games with a “physical and nasty mindset,” but the big guy displays some athleticism, too. He grew up playing basketball and he can still throw down a dunk.

“Maine was a great program and I have a great relationship with everyone there. I still talk to the coaches, I still talk to my former teammates, but just being the way that I am as a person, I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level possible and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL,” Dobson said.

“I figured just with the COVID situation and Maine being unsure if they’d be able to book FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) games this upcoming fall, I figured it’d be in my best interest for me to make the jump to the FBS level so that all my games were being played at that level just to get as much film as I can and the best film that I can to put myself in a position for the NFL.”

Dobson grew up watching the CFL and called it an “amazing feeling” to have the option of playing professionally in his home country. He said his virtual meeting with Bombers staff went very well, but he had no idea they were going to pick him third overall.

There’s still a ton of uncertainty surrounding the future of the CFL, but that didn’t put a damper on Dobson’s night.

“Football, at the end of the day, especially in Canada, the country loves it. The league has such a great history. There’s so many people that support it and I know that the league’s gonna come back even better than it was before. We’re going to get back to playing games and it’s going to be a great experience,” said Dobson.

In the sixth and final round, the Bombers used their last pick on former University of Manitoba Bisons defensive back Shae Weekes. In three seasons with the Herd, the St. Adolphe native was named a second-team All-Canadian defensive back twice. Weekes transferred to Bemidji State last season and practised with the team, but didn’t get any game action as the pandemic erased their schedule. The St. Paul’s High School product was the only Manitoban drafted on Tuesday night.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicked off the draft, and raised some eyebrows, by using the first overall pick on a tight end, Jake Burt out of Boston College. Born in Regina, the 6-5, 230-pounder moved to Boston at the age of four. Burt signed with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent and spent last season on their practice squad. Before turning his full attention to football, Burt was the top-ranked high school volleyball player in the U.S.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were up next and stayed in their own backyard by drafting Nelson Lokombo, a defensive back out of the University of Saskatchewan. Lokombo, who hails from Abbotsford, B.C., was the 2019 U Sports defensive player of the year.

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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