Bliss: After the draft was over we thought we'd get a little more attention than we did. I thought I had good workouts everywhere I had gone and the main thing that hurt me was my size--not being as big as some of the other punters. It didn't look like I'd get picked up this season so we decided to try other leagues. I went to the tryout in Monroe, La., with the Eskimos about three weeks ago. This past weekend I was up in up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada trying out with the Tiger-Cats. Both teams started contacting me last night and we worked it out with the Eskimos.
You talked about your size hurting you. Is that because the NFL scouts view larger punters as having more upside?
Bliss: They definitely have a bias toward the larger punters. I put up really good numbers all four years of college and the game going from college to pro really isn't that much different punting-wise. I performed better at the combines than almost everyone who got signed and picked up. I did well at pro day, I did well when I was at the East/West game, I did everything that I could from a punting standpoint. I gained weight for them. I can't make myself taller but I'm sitting at about 187 right now whereas I was playing during the season at about 170. I did everything I could, so now we're going to Canada to try to put in a good year and make it to Europe and make the league next year.
With only three downs won't the CFL give you more opportunities to show what you can do?
Bliss: There are so many different rules that I'm still kind of struggling to catch on. Looking at the stats there were a few punters with around 130 punts last year, whereas last year I had 47 or 49.
Did you ever get discouraged during the process of finding a new team?
Bliss: It was kind of frustrating because I was putting in good workouts everywhere I went. I wasn't having bad days at all. Everywhere I went I was doing really well. I thought something has got to give at some point and someone is going to pick me up. Finally in the last couple of days we got in touch with a couple of different teams and finally got it done today (Thursday).
Bliss, a four-year starter, played his part in Auburn winning 41 games during his career.
What's your role going to be? Are you going to have a chance to do field goals, kickoffs and punts?
Bliss: More than likely I'll be doing all three. A lot of teams won't want to spend one of their roster spots on a guy who is just going to do one thing, especially with me being what they can an ‘import player.' They only get 19 spots for guys who are not from Canada. Coming from America as a kicker you have to be able to do all three phases for them. I'm lucky in the fact that I can.
You did place kicking some in high school, but did you ever practice it at Auburn?
Bliss: Most of my experience came from high school. Since Auburn's season has been over I've been doing kickoffs as well as punting knowing they want punters that can kickoff as well. Probably about three or four weeks ago I started working on field goals and it's kind of like riding a bike. It took me a couple of days to get comfortable doing it again and I'm back on the level I was. I can do field goals really well now.
With 53-man rosters in the NFL and some teams looking for combo guys, could this really help you in the future?
Bliss: They can look at your college stats but they're going to say, ‘Are you going to be able to do it in the pros?' After this year in Canada they're going to have professional stats on me. It's another season of experience under my belt and if I perform the way I should it's going to be hard for them to not know I can compete on that level.
How many years is your contract?
Bliss: The way I've been told Canadian contracts works is that it's an across the board thing. They are one-year contracts with an option for a second year. Basically I'm contracted through this season and then afterwards I'm free to do whatever I want. Then I'll have the option of rejoining the team the following season if the NFL doesn't work out.
Do you know any of your new teammates?
Bliss: No. I'm arriving tomorrow when the veterans report. The rookies have already been there for two or three days. I'll be coming in and trying to meet a few people tomorrow (Friday).
Since you're married, what's the living situation going to be like?
Bliss: I think my wife is going to stay in Birmingham for the most part and come and visit as much as she can. For the most part I'm going to try to get a roommate up there and just get an apartment. I'm going to have to talk to the older guys on the team, some of the American guys, and see what they normally do and see what the easiest way is to go about it.
The season kicks off in just a couple of weeks (June 15). It looks like you're going to have to get after it.
Bliss: It's coming around the corner. They start training camp tomorrow. I'm flying in, leaving in the morning and getting there a little bit after noon or 1 o'clock. As far as I know I'm getting right on the field almost.
With everything moving so quickly are you nervous at all?
Bliss: I wouldn't say nervous. I'm eager to get out there and get back on a football team. I've got to win a spot and I'm ready to do so.