August 28, 2014

Moffat: Crompton thrown a challenge


Jonathon Crompton doesn’t want to talk about the most famous hand gesture in the CFL this week. Not that it was a Manziel moment or anything.

“It was done in the heat of the moment…I don’t know what else to say.”

The strapping QB reliever from North Carolina was a long a way from home. Unfriendly Manitoba. Hostile crowd, late 4th quarter with the Blue Bombers surging and the Als’ hopes fading.

Was his flick of the wrist with thumb against index finger meant for the referee or his coaches to see? Or both? Was the 2nd year CFLer in his first taste of action as an Alouette a reliable witness?

Despite the 6’5, 225-pounder’s body language plea, no challenge flag came out from Tom Higgins. No pass interference flag had been thrown either.

Crompton’s first win as an Alouette will have to come as a starter. It cannot come soon enough with the Als struggling to halt the bleeding of a 6-game losing streak, matching the worst since the franchise rebirth in 1996.

Maybe Crompton didn’t want a flag thrown. Maybe he just wants to throw down some roots.

The former Edmonton Eskimos property was 4th on the depth chart when he came to Montreal. He’d also been given the “pack your bags” sign by 4 NFL teams in 4 years,

His hometown Asheville, North Carolina is cited in “The Geography of Bliss” by American humorist Eric Weiner and listed as one of the “Happiest Places in America”. So was it chance or destiny that a former CFL quarterbacking great of the 70’s & 80’s would help him find his “Happy Place” and comfort zone in Canada.

Condredge Holloway, current assistant athletic director at the University of Tennessee, has been a mentor to Volunteer quarterbacks for years.

“He’s a great man,” Crompton says of the former Ottawa Rough Rider who went on to end a 31-year Grey Cup drought for the Argos in ’83, four years before Jonathon was born.

“He told me about Canada, he has so much knowledge and he’s just a great guy to shoot the bull with.”

Holloway, a Canadian Football Hall of Famer, is also a pioneer—the grandson of a slave rose to become first black QB at Tennessee, first starting QB in the entire SEC. AND the first black baseball player.

Orange really was the new black.

Holloway never got into specifics of coping with the 20-second play clock, the 12th man or the intricacies of waggling, but a base of knowledge was handed down even before Crompton left campus and the guidance of Lane Kiffin, the former Oakland Raiders coach now the OC at Alabama.

Crompton can even recite the classic Holloway story: his mother refuses to allow him to sign with the Montreal Expos in spite of the fact he was Montreal’s 1st pick, 4th overall in the ’71 draft.

“His mother told him he had to go to college,” recounts Crompton, himself a standout shortstop who was not allowed to pitch by his coach at Tuscola High in Waynesville, NC for fear of ruining the prospect’s mechanics.

“That throw from deep in the hole to first base was my favorite throw,” says the 27-year old once ranked behind only Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia Eagles) and Ryan Perriloux (a former Giant and Calgary Stampeder now with Arena’s New Orleans VooDoo) as college prospects.

Crompton could gun it and still does on the football field.

“It was fun,” he says nonchalantly about his first action for the Als. “I’ve been playing the game since was 7 and I’m still striving for greatness.”

Does the losing weigh on his shoulders as he finally takes the majority of 1st team reps at practise?

“We’ve done a good job of putting it to rest,” Crompton confides. “My high school coach always said ‘have a short-term memory—don’t be too excited and move on.’

Maybe Condredge Holloway has counselled him about handling the familiar turf of 2-quarterback controversies and revolving doors behind centre. Holloway and Tommy Clements were the blessing/curse upon Ottawa in the 70s. Both would go on to Grey Cup crowns—elsewhere.

Is Crompton stoked to be the new #1?

“It’s just another day,” he insists.

Asked if he has to prove himself to lock down Montreal as his longterm home and lock up a new contract, Crompton coolly suggests I’ve stepped out of bounds.

“I’d rather not talk about contract. I wanted to come here. I’m just happy to be here. Gameday is the fun part.”

To borrow a phrase from Saskatchewan Roughrider fans, Green doesn’t matter to the new Orange QB.

Too bad the new signature uniforms unveiled at CFB Bagotville, home of 425 Squadron’s CF-18 fighter jets don’t have a touch of Orange. The 3rd different starter of the season for “Les Alouettes” has a rocket arm.

He’ll probably have the pride of the Orange Condredge Holloway back in Tennessee rooting for @jcromp8 to beat Ottawa.