The goal was to get to a CFL training camp. That goal was met, but just not how Edmonton Eskimos running back Johnny Augustin thought he would meet it.
Augustin, a graduate of the University of Guelph, registered 637 yards rushing and three touchdowns in seven games with the Guelph Gryphons in 2016.
He went to CFL Week in Regina and, by all reports, had a strong combine landing him in the 17th spot on the final CFL Central Scouting rankings. The 23-year-old was ready for the CFL Canadian draft, ready to see where football would be taking him next.
Then it happened, or more correctly didn’t happen.
“It was a tough day there is no other way to describe it” Augustin said looking back to May 7 and the CFL draft when he was passed over by nine teams for eight rounds.
“It’s one thing not to get drafted, but when you expect to go really high, definitely a tough day.”
He doesn’t know why he went unclaimed and isn’t all that interested in the reasons, he is more interested in moving on.
“To be honest with you, if it wasn’t meant to be it wasn’t meant to be. It happened and there is no explanation to it.”
It wasn’t long after the draft that Augustin found out he would be going to a CFL camp. The Eskimos reached out to him and signed him as a free agent on May 15 and the 5’8″ 202 pounder, who has been moved from tail back to full back, is in Eskimos camp and making an impression.
“Johnny came in as a raw, raw full back” said running backs coach Tim Prinsen
“He came in with the right attitude wanting to do everything in his power to become the player we asked him to be. It was probably overwhelming at first but he stuck his nose to the grindstone and worked and worked and worked and has continued to work and ask all the right questions.
“It’s been really neat to see his progression from the start of camp to now. He is a totally different guy”
Augustin has spent the last two weeks as an Eskimo and he has enjoyed it, and the sting of not getting drafted has faded.
“Everything happens for a reason and this is a great organization” said Augustin, who knows the next step is up to him “At the end of the day, drafted or free agent, I’m here to fight for a roster spot that’s the way I see it. If I’m good enough then they will keep me.
“The plan is to really show them my case and when the pre-season comes around I can prove it to everybody and show them what they missed out on.”
Augustin may get that chance Sunday when the Eskimos host the Calgary Stampeders in pre-season action at the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
The last few days of training camp have been testy. Players have been on edge with several incidents of pushing, shoving and the odd punch being thrown.
They are clearly ready to play a game.
“I think it’s time” said Prinsen “Training camp is a grind on everybody I think we are ready to hit someone else.”
Fridays practice ended with head coach Jason Maas expressing his disappointing with the team on their lack of focus, execution and discipline.
Quarterback Mike Reilly understands the coach’s frustration.
“I can understand why he is upset, because more than anything we were wasting time out here and we aren’t getting better when we are wasting time. Things like this happen and now we want to make sure we respond well as a team. The veterans need to make sure we have a chat and get everyone on the same page to refocus and be ready for Sunday’s game.”
Reilly says seeing the red and white of the Stampeders will be a welcome sight
“We’re going to be the last team to play a pre-season game so ya, our guys are ready to see a different team and go against them.”
Eskimos host Calgary Sunday at 5 p.m. All the action starts with the pre-game show on 630 CHED at 3:30 p.m.
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