When Blake Nill, head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos, first met with Linden Gaydosh, the young recruit said he wanted two things in life: to play football and be a farmer.
Consider goal No. 1 accomplished.
The former U of C defensive lineman was recently named the first pick overall in the 2013 CFL draft, and on Sunday he agreed to a contract with the NFL Carolina Panthers. The 6-foot-3, 314-pound Gaydosh attended a Panthers rookie mini-camp and did enough in drills and practices to earn a contract and an invitation to the main training camp.
That means the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who drafted the 23-year-old from Peace River, Alta., will have to wait on Gaydosh and whether he stays with the Panthers. The Ticats listened to trade offers for the first pick, but used it to select a player they felt was going to step into their lineup and provide an instant presence.
“I’m very excited for him,” Nill said of Gaydosh. “He’s a farm kid from Northern Alberta who had a dream to play pro football and he never wavered from that, not just on the field, but academically as well.
“When he came here he wasn’t the highest-rated guy academically, but our academic development and our program within the football team worked with him. Linden deserves a lot of credit for putting in the effort. He flat outworks people.”
Gaydosh recorded 90.5 tackles and seven sacks to help the Dinos win four consecutive Canada West championships. He was Canadian university football’s top rookie in 2009 and Hardy Cup defensive MVP the following year.
Another U of C product, offensive lineman Fabien Kirby, attended a New York Giants mini-camp. There was no word on whether he was offered a deal. Kirby’s CFL rights belong to the B.C. Lions.
Regina defensive tackle Stefan Charles and McMaster offensive lineman Matt Sewell (both with the Tennessee Titans), Eastern Michigan defensive lineman Andy Mulumba (Green Bay Packers) and Wagner College linebacker C.O. Prime (Indianapolis Colts) all signed with their NFL clubs prior to the CFL draft.