Colts Go North of the Border Again

A year ago, the Colts dipped into the Canadian Football league and found Kenton Keith, who gained over 500 yards in 2007 and led the team's backs in yards per carry. This year, the team has looked north again, to the college ranks, and plucked a productive prospect with impressive athleticism. Could he find a spot on the Colts?

Canadian wide receiver Samuel Giguere has signed with Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent.

This weekend turned out to be a long, disappointing wait for Giguere — who participated in the East-West Shrine game, but did not receive an invitation to the NFL's Scouting Combine — but the end result was that he now has a chance to make an NFL roster with the Colts.

Samuel Guigere goes up for a catch
Photo: Université de Sherbrooke

Giguere is a Montreal native and played collegiately for the University of Sherbrooke, which is a French-language university and a league member of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport — essentially the Canadian version of the NCAA.  At 5 feet, 11 inches and 220 pounds, he's certainly the right height and thicker through the torso and shoulders than Colts receivers typically are.

As a matter of fact, he recently showed his strength at the CFL's Scouting Combine in March by putting up 23 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.  That was actually part of a very impressive overall workout that included a time 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 4.10 second time in the short shuttle, and a 42-inch vertical jump, all of which were the best results of the entire event, regardless of position. 

He posted a 19.4 yards per reception average in 2007, finishing with 45 receptions for 871 yards and seven touchdowns.

Those numbers are impressive enough on their own, but become even more appealing when you realize that the CIS football schedule includes only eight regular season games, as compared to 13 or sometimes 14 games for NCAA players after you factor in conference championship games and bowl games.

In the Shrine game, he caught one pass for 15 yards, but was not on the field a great deal since it was an all-star game.

There is no doubt that he is a very gifted athlete that dominated a lower lever of competition in the CIS.

He has a tremendous amount of potential and, with mini-camps, OTAs, and training camp on the way, he may get enough exposure to the game at this level to acclimate himself to it and succeed — if nothing else on special teams, where he has the speed and size to potentially be a fantastic gunner on the punt coverage unit.

But, as with any undrafted player, he does come with some question marks. A player that posted the top overall performance in three major categories at the combine in Indianapolis would certainly merit first-round consideration regardless of position — Giguere is no different, though he will most likely be selected in the later rounds of the Canadian version of the draft, held this Wednesday, since he has NFL prospects.

If he is selected high enough in the Canadian draft, he may choose to pursue the money and opportunity to start in his home country in front of hometown crowds in a game he is more familiar with.

While we're on that subject, the rules for Canadian football are slightly different than the American version of the game in some areas and drastically different in others.

Samuel Guigere in the open field
Photo: Université de Sherbrooke

Though the rules are different between the professional and collegiate games here in the States, the differences are not as pronounced and, with how ingrained football is in American culture, it is easier for someone who was born in Texas to master the NFL rules than it is someone who was born in Quebec.

And, before the staff of ColtPower gets accused of xenophobia, remember that Plaxico Burress, fresh from the American college ranks, forgot that a player isn't down until he's touched and hits the ground when he celebrated a first down by spiking a live ball against the Jaguars during his rookie season in 2000.

Finally, his move from the CIS to the NFL is likely to be more of a culture shock than the average rookie's move from the NCAA — regardless of Division — to the NFL.  Giguere is coming from an environment where he is the best athlete by far, essentially the Darren McFadden of the Canadian draft, and moving to a situation where he is an undrafted player on a team with considerable depth, playing a position that is flush with talent, and one for which the Colts already used a 2008 selection. 

Although most pundits out there will point to the fact that Giguere will need to adjust to the speed of the game and the competition at this level, a lot of that can be overcome by coaching by the staff and determination by the player.

It has been well established that coach Tony Dungy, offensive coordinator Tom Moore, and receivers coach Clyde Christensen are excellent teachers and have successfully coached several different types of players with several different types of backgrounds and abilities to productive careers.

That means the onus is now on the young man from Montreal — he graduated in three years, so he is only 21 — to motivate himself to learn and succeed against all odds; and, particularly, against complacency if he is drafted in the early rounds by a CFL team. 

"It is a big jump, admittedly," team president Bill Polian told "But that's OK. Others have made it."

Many players have made a practically seamless transition from "Big Man on Campus" to "unknown rookie" and went on to star on Sundays.  Whether or not Giguere is able to make that transition is up to him.  At least, the Colts have given him the opportunity.

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