After several months of travelling a road filled with uncertainty Jabar Westerman finally received some good news about his destination during the CFL Canadian draft.
In a surprise move the B.C. Lions made a draft day trade to bump up two spots, and then selected the defensive tackle from Eastern Michigan University with the second overall pick. The Lions' desire to claim him left the six-foot-two, 285-pound Westerman searching for words.
"I'm kind of speechless,'' the 22-year-old told reporters in a telephone conference call.”I didn't think it would happen so early. It's a good start.''
Head coach Mike Benevides said the defending Grey Cup champions didn't want to lose the chance to add Westerman to the Lions' den.
"He's an impact player,'' said Benevides."He fits exactly into our scheme. He's exactly what we are looking for.
"There was a threat we may lose him. We had the flexibility to move up to get him and we are thrilled. He's a big guy, a long guy. He makes explosive plays and he's disruptive at the line of scrimmage.''
Westerman appeared in 23 games over two seasons with Eastern Michigan. He recorded 48 defensive tackles and five sacks for the Spartans.
Until recently Westerman's draft status was in limbo. He was born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but his family moved to Brampton, Ont., where he attended elementary school. He played football at Dodge City Junior College in Kansas before transferring to Eastern Michigan.
To gain his non-import status Westerman had to obtain a letter from a secretary at the school in Brampton, signed by the principal, proving he spent 60 months living in Canada before his eighth birthday.
Even heading into the CFL evaluation camp Westerman wasn't sure if he would be eligible for the draft.
"It was kind of difficult,'' he said.”I didn't know what was going to happen, even if I was going to be given non-import status. After I found out I was going to be a non-import that really was an accomplishment.
"My whole career has basically been hard work. I had to take the long route. A little extra hard work pays off.''
Westerman wasn't on many people's radar heading into the CFL E-Camp but had a great showing. He shot up to the eighth spot on the Scouting Bureau Top 15 Rankings.
Benevides said the Lions were most impressed by watching Westerman's game tape.
"In terms of a Canadian defensive tackle I haven't seen many tapes like him in a long, long time,'' said Benevides, B.C.'s former defensive coordinator who took over as head coach when Wally Buono retired to become B.C.'s general manager and vice-president of football operations.
"His tape is outstanding. He is explosive and he also fits our scheme.''
|4||Devon Bailey||St. Francis Xavier||WR|
|5||Matthias Goosen||Simon Fraser||OL|