May 28, 2012

Westerman signs, Fabien returns to school


VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions have signed their 2012 top draft pick Jabar Westerman to a contract, the CFL club announced Monday.

But the defending Grey Cup champions will have to do without their other first-round pick, University of Calgary offensive lineman Kirby Fabien, who announced he is returning to the Dinos for a third season.

Westerman, a 22-year-old defensive end from Brampton, Ont., was selected second overall in the CFL draft earlier this month after the Lions moved up in the selection order through a trade with the Edmonton Eskimos.

He played the past two seasons at Eastern Michigan, where he recorded five sacks and 48 tackles, after toiling two campaigns at Dodge City College.

He is a potential replacement for defensive end Brent Johnson, who retired after 11 seasons with the Lions following their unexpected 2011 Grey Cup victory. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Westerman had to prove to the CFL that he had spent sufficient time growing up in Canada to be eligible for the draft, which is only open to Canadians. He moved to Brampton in 1999 while still in elementary school.

The Lions also attempted to sign Fabien, a 22-year-old Calgary native who was chosen seventh overall, but the two sides were unable to get a deal done.

“I have determined that it is in my best interest to return to the University of Calgary for the 2012-13 year to allow me to complete my degree in economics,” said Fabien in a news release issued by the university. “I appreciate being drafted by the Lions and look forward to the opportunity to play in B.C. in the future.”

The Lions have indicated they plan to try the two-time CIS All-Canadian tackle at guard. Fabien helped the Dinos qualify for the Vanier Cup in 2010 and the Mitchell Bowl, which serves as a national semifinal, in 2011. Both times, they lost to Laval.

The Lions also announced they have signed two other draft picks. Matt Norman, a 23-year-old University of Western Ontario offensive lineman from Chateauguay, Que., was chosen 22nd overall. University of Calgary fullback Jordan Verdone, a 23-year-old Echo Bay, Ont., native, went 37th overall.

Westerman, Norman and Verdone are slated to attend rookie camp, which begins Wednesday in Kamloops, B.C. The main training camp, also to be held in Kamloops, will start Sunday.