RIDERS MAKE THE DAY FOR TWO LOCAL PROSPECTS
By Mitchell Blair
Sporting an ear-to-ear grin that may not be erased anytime soon, Regina born offensive lineman Nick Hutchins was ecstatic upon learning he had been selected by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the third round of Saturday’s CFL draft. “It’s the greatest day of my life. I couldn’t explain it in words.” says the 21 year old.
Hutchins had been watching the proceedings on TSN but when the network broke away to start Stanley Cup playoffs coverage, he had to quickly load up his computer. He says, “I was scrambling to get my computer to load and as soon as it loaded, my name popped up and there was just instant joy. My phone was ringing, it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I couldn’t express how I felt. I couldn’t even talk I was so excited. My whole family was going nuts. I was thanking coach Miller. He asked me if I wanted to be a Saskatchewan Roughrider and they were drafting me and welcome aboard. I just said this is a dream come true and thank you very much.”
The six foot two, 320 pound Hutchins can’t wait for training camp to begin as he wants to start learning from the likes of Gene Makowsky and Jeremy O’Day. “I’m very excited to talk to them and get to know how to play in this league and how to adapt to the different players and the different schemes,” said Hutchins. Those guys are well known and they have a lot of attributes that can help me grow as an offensive lineman in this league.”
Hutchins was not the only member of the University of Regina Rams to be taken by the football club on draft day. With the first pick of the second round, ninth overall, the team took defensive back Tamon George. Like Hutchins, George was ecstatic to be going to his hometown team. “Its an unbelieveable feeling, I couldn’t be any happier when I got the call,” said the 21 year old. “It was the best thing that could happen to me. I was sitting on the couch with my family and my girlfriend watching the draft on TSN when the call came. There’s not too many people that get to experience this feeling. Being a Regina guy and watching the Riders for my entire life, it’s a very special thing that a select few people get to have happen to them.”
Hutchins and George weren’t the only ones smiling at Mosaic Stadium Saturday as they handled their first assignments with the Riders by speaking to the local media. Head coach Ken Miller was also happy with the way draft day went even though the team made only two selections. Miller says “Today is really a good day for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Tamon George and Nick Hutchins are two local players who we feel are going to be Riders for a long time.”
In talking about George, Miller says the club’s awareness of him was heightened once it was determined the club wants to play a non-import at one of the cornerback positions. The coach says, “That spot will be very competitive in training camp. We don’t want just bodies, we want athletes and we want it to be competitive and we expect them to be competitive. As for Hutchins, Miller says you never be too rich when it comes to Canadian offensive linemen. He says offensive linemen have traditionally had the most sticking power out of any position group and that adding a player the like of Hutchins just deepens the pool further.
Both George and Hutchins also have the luxury of knowing they don’t have to crack the roster immediately. Both have one year of university football remaining as they will do their thing with the University of Regina Rams under the watchful eye of Frank McCrystal. Those in Regina know McCrystal has helped the likes of Jason Clermont, Neal Hughes and Chris Getzlaf get to the pros and that if all goes well, the names of Tamon George and Nick Hutchins will be added to that list.
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