True signings of spring
By James Pugsley
Two Mustangs were drafted Monday, Canadian Football League style, but it appears only one of them will be reporting for duty.
Derek Krete and Patrice Denis, Western's linebacking core for the past four seasons, were selected in the CFL's annual Canadian college draft, capping an incredible season for the duo.
Krete, the 1996 defensive player of the year in the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union was chosen in the fourth round, 29th overall, by the Montreal Alouettes. Unlike Denis, however, the six-foot-one Krete, a 245-pound Sarnia native, hesitated to celebrate the signing.
"I'm happy to be drafted in the CFL but that's not my goal," he said. "I want to aim as high as I possibly can and that's the NFL. That's what I really want to do what I aspire to do."
Krete will have to wait until April 19, the date of this year's NFL entry draft, to see if he is worthy of American ball. His hopes rest on signing as a free agent once he is freed of all other football organizations north of the border.
In contrast to Krete, Denis was delighted by his news of being signed by the Edmonton Eskimos in the second round of the draft, 16th overall. Denis, a 24-year old from Quebec City, attended a training camp in Calgary two weeks ago where CFL scouts had the opportunity to see young Canadian talent a mandatory ingredient for the league's teams. Upon hearing that Edmonton was his future football home, Denis, at 230 pounds, became especially excited.
"In the CFL where there are teams that are not too stable, it's great to know I am going to a strong organization like Edmonton," he said. "I wanted to go to a winner because I am so used to winning at Western. This is great news."
Should he make the squad this season, Denis will back up two of the best linebackers in the CFL in Willie Pless and Larry Wruck. Knowing this, Denis, who will graduate with an honours actuarial science degree this spring, is looking for a role on special teams to begin his professional career.
"This league is about running and speed," he said. "At the camp I was working on special teams and I think I am fast enough. I can see myself fitting in on special teams."
Both players were recent winners of a coveted purple blanket, awarded to Western's top career athletes. Krete also walked away with the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy, given to the top male athlete. Each player spoke of the other in high regards after four seasons of leading the Western defence together.
"[Krete] pushed me tremendously," Denis said. "I always felt I had to get my game up to his standards and I hope he felt the same. It was an amazing feeling to know the biggest competition for linebackers in Canada was right by my side."
Krete, who did not attend the Calgary training camp likely because of his NFL desires, felt happy for his ex-teammate.
"I think it's great for him," he said of Denis. "He had a great year and this is something he really wants to do. I know one day he will be one of the best linebackers in the league."
The first selection at the draft was Chad Folk, a six-foot-one, 280-pound centre from the University of Utah, who was taken by the Toronto Argonauts. The Saskatchewan Roughriders followed by picking Ben Fairbrother, a six-foot-four, 310-pound offensive lineman from the University of Calgary.