November 18, 2022

Looking in a Mirror: Ellingson seeing himself in Schoen

Chris Tanouye/

When veteran slotback Greg Ellingson looks at his Winnipeg Blue Bomber teammate Dalton Schoen he sees a younger version of himself.

“He has a lot of attributes that I think I pride myself in,” Ellingson said after the Bombers practiced in bone chilling weather Friday.

“He’s a great football player. He came up here hungry with something to prove.”

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Schoen, the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie this season, likes drinking from Ellingson’s fountain of knowledge.

“I’ve learned a ton from Greg, as I have all the guys in the receiver room this year,” he said. “Sometimes it’s me asking Greg questions about what do you see on this look or how do you run this route?

“Other times it’s just me watching how he approaches every day and how he goes about his business. Just watching and absorbing as much information as I can from a guy like that is huge.”

The two receivers, at opposite ends of their careers, will both play a role when the Bombers attempt to win their third consecutive CFL title against the Toronto Argonauts in Sunday’s 109th Grey Cup from Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Ellingson, 34, will be making his sixth Grey Cup appearance, but his first since 2018. He has one Grey Cup ring.

“You’ve got to appreciate and be humbled for the opportunities that you’re given because you never know when they might come again,” said the native of Tampa, FL.

Schoen, 26, who was a walk-on at Kansas State, never won a football championship in high school or college.

“The guys have done a great job of preaching don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “You get one more week with your teammates on this 2022 team.

“My approach this week is to soak it all up and make the most of every moment because it’s going to go quick. You don’t want to leave any regrets. For me being a rookie, I don’t want the moment to get too big or anything. At the end of the day, it’s all about preparing and doing what you’ve done all year that’s led to this point.”

Ellingson and Schoen are cut from the same pattern. Ellingson is six-foot-three and 211 pounds. Schoen is two inches shorter but seven pounds heavier. Both have soft hands and run precise routes.

In a nine-year career Ellingson has 587 catches for 8,550 yards and 45 touchdowns.

Head coach Mike O’Shea said having him to help prepare the team this week has added, “another perspective on how to get it done.”

It didn’t take Schoen long to leave his mark on the CFL. The native of Overland Park, KS, led all receivers with 1,441 yards on 70 catches. He also was tops in the league with 16 touchdowns, an average of 20.6 yards per catch, 12 caches of 30 or more yards and 41 second-down conversions.

Being named the top rookie, “is a special honor” for Schoen but he’s more focused on Sunday’s prize. “Just doing it for the guys in the locker room,” he said.


Ellingson appeared in five Grey Cups in his first six CFL seasons. He broke into the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013. He lost to Saskatchewan and Calgary when Hamilton made back-to-back Grey Cup appearances. He was part of the Ottawa REDBLACKS team that lost to Edmonton in 2015, then played for Ottawa when they upset Calgary in 2016. Ellingson’s last appearance on Grey Cup Sunday was with the REDBLACKS when they lost to Calgary in 2018.

Winnipeg heads into Sunday’s game as the heavy favourite. Ellingson hasn’t needed to remind the Bombers about the 2016 underdog he played for that won the Cup.

“I don’t think the past comes up much,” he said. “Now that we’re here, it’s about finishing the job.

“We don’t really talk about things that have happened before to me personally or with this team. It’s about what are we going to do this year.”

Ellingson joined the Bombers as a free agent this year after spending two seasons in Edmonton. The chance to play with Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros, a two-time league Most Outstanding Player and a teammate in Hamilton, was a factor.

“It had a lot to do with it,” said Ellingson. “What receiver wouldn’t want to play with the MOP and on a team that won back-to-back Grey Cups? It was a pretty easy decision to make.”

Ellingson had a great start to the year and was leading the league in receptions, receiving yards and second down conversions before a pair of injuries limited him to just eight games. He finished the season with 38 catches for 598 yards and three touchdowns.

Both Ellingson and Schoen had productive college careers, but neither were drafted into the NFL. However, both had stints with NFL teams before establishing themselves in the CFL.

Schoen has the words “street dawg” written on the tape of his wrist during games. It’s a reminder of something his father told him when he was struggling for playing time in college.

“What he meant was, no one is going to give you anything, you’ve got to go out there and take it,’” said Schoen, who has a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in data analytics. “I had to be a street dog. When I got that one opportunity, I had to grab it. I had to seize the moment and prove they can’t afford not to have you on the field.”

Ellingson admires the determination Schoen has displayed.

“He listens, he absorbs,” he said. “He makes plays that will surprise you every week. It makes you excited to watch a kid like that play football.”

Schoen said that when he was learning about the CFL, the player that he watched the most on film was Ellingson. So being praised by him is special.

“It means a lot,” Schoen said. “It’s a huge compliment.”

One secret Ellingson has not yet passed on to Schoen is how he manages to draw so many pass interference calls.

“I told him I’m going to wait until he re-signs before I let him know those tricks,” Ellingson said.

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