May 5, 2023

First-round-pick Bennett ‘fired up’ to join Bombers

Piper Sports Photography/University of Regina

Anthony Bennett was just a few minutes into his introductory media conference as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers when one thing crystallized almost instantly:

His teammates, his coaches and the fan base are absolutely going to love this guy.

The Blue Bombers used their first pick, eighth overall, in Tuesday’s CFL Draft to grab the University of Regina defensive end. He’s drawn personality comparisons to Willie Jefferson, and his constant team-first/will to win answers during his phone session with Winnipeg’s press corps from his off-season base in Florida are clearly what endeared him to Kyle Walters, Mike O’Shea and Co. during the CFL Combine presented by New Era and the days leading up to the draft.

» A team-by-team look at the 2023 CFL Draft
Quoteboard: Reaction from the top-three draft picks
» Recap: CFL Draft answers lingering questions
» Results: 2023 Global Draft
» Gentle Giant: Vandal remains calm as last draft pick


Bennett’s family surprised him by hosting a draft party in Miami Tuesday, inviting former teachers, old teammates, and friends to celebrate his big night with him.

And when the call came from O’Shea welcoming him aboard…

“To be completely honest, it was a complete surprise,” said Bennett. “Then it wasn’t really. I don’t know how to explain it, because these are the words from coach O’Shea himself (before the draft): ‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to get you but if you do end up dropping this low, we’ve for sure got you.’ I know he’s a man of his word but it kind of hit me in a heart-lifting moment because I thought I was falling through the cracks and it seemed (the Bombers) were just quick, in an instant ‘Oh, we know what we want,’ way to go.

“I can’t wait to show (O’Shea) the video (of the reaction). It was an awesome atmosphere.”

Bennett, born in Florida, began his collegiate career at Florida Atlantic University before joining the Rams – his mother, who is from Regina, met his father during his days with the Roughriders. He dropped 26 pounds from his days at FAU to be lighter with the Rams, going from 255 to 229, saying he felt unhealthy at the heavier weight. That decision clearly paid off, as Bennett was a U-SPORTS First Team All-Canadian last year after setting a Regina record with eight sacks while tying a school mark for tackles for a loss in a single season, 10.5, and adding 19 tackles.

New Bombers defensive end Anthony Bennett is not afraid to play on special teams as he looks to make an immediate impact in Winnipeg (Christian Bender/

“I love football, I love it. I give everything, my home, my family, my tradition in life and I love to be in a winning atmosphere,” Bennett said. “With all that being said, once again I just prayed and I’m so thankful to wear the ‘W’ with pride now. I just can’t wait. All I’m saying is I came from Florida, Florida to FAU, FAU I got a winning coach who wanted me on the team, so I stayed there. And then the new coach had to leave, and COVID hit, and I just wanted to go to Regina and take care of my family. And then Mark McConkey (Rams head coach) said ‘Hey, you want another home?’ I just chose Regina and Regina just treated me like I was home. And now I’m planning on Winnipeg being my next home after this.”

Walters said what separated Bennett from the others in a deep D-line class in this year’s draft was his willingness and ability to play special teams.

“Oh, 1,000 per cent. I love special teams,” he said. “I played specials throughout my time at Florida Atlantic and they loved me flying around and I just loved getting out there. Especially learning these CFL rules. Oh man, I’m quick, I’m ansty, I’m anxious and I want to get on the field with (the Bombers) right away and wear the ‘W’ proud.”

And the Jefferson comparison?

“Oh dude, that’s accurate. That’s 1,000 per cent accurate,” Bennett added. “I watched his game; I aspire to be that. It’s so funny because, in my head, I was just like ‘Oh, man, if we’re together, me and him, we’re going to cause some havoc on some quarterbacks.’ I’m excited, I’m fired up. And JJ (Jackson Jeffcoat,) too. It’s going to be an exciting time. I can’t wait to see those boys. I feel like I’m home.”

BLUE NOTES: The Blue Bombers announced the signing of three players on Wednesday – kicker Marc Orozco and offensive lineman Chris Ivy, both American and National linebacker Robbie Lowes.

Orozco (five-foot-nine, 170; Grambling State) comes to the Blue Bombers after a collegiate career with the Tigers (2014-2018) and two seasons with the Albany Empire of the National Arena League. Orozco, who can placekick and punt, finished his days at Grambling with an 87.9 field-goal percentage and was named an All-Southwest Athletic Conference First Team and a BOXTOROW All-American in 2017.
Ivy (six-foot-three, 296; University of Tulsa) played in 35 games over three years (2017-2019) with the Golden Hurricanes and three games this season with the Tulsa Oilers of the Indoor Football League.

Lowes (six-foot-one, 205; Regina) was originally drafted by Winnipeg in the fourth round, 34th overall in the 2021 CFL Draft. Lowes played two games for the club in 2021 before suffering a season-ending injury during training camp in 2022.

The comment system on this website is now powered by the Forums. We'd love for you to be part of the conversation; click the Start Discussion button below to register an account and join the community!