May 8, 2023

Bombers add eight to roster, including three draft picks

University of Regina/Piper Sports Photography

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced on Sunday the signing of American quarterbacks Cooper Callis and Josh Jones, American linebackers Christian Dixon and Barrington Wade, American defensive end Jadrian Taylor, and three 2023 CFL Draft choices; defensive lineman Tanner Schmekel (35th overall), running back Jonathan Rosery (62nd overall) and defensive lineman Collin Kornelson (44th overall).

» A team-by-team look at the 2023 CFL Draft
» Results: 2023 Global Draft
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» Bombers sign five 2023 CFL Draft picks

Callis (six-foot-three, 215 pounds; Southwest Baptist University; born: June 8, 1999 in Jackson, MO.) played in 25 games from 2020-2022 with the Bearcats, completing 68.2 percent of his passes for 7,712 yards and 73 touchdowns against 22 interceptions while rushing for 407 yards and five more scores. He began his collegiate career at Fullerton College of the California Community College Athletic Association.

Jones (six-foot-three, 220 pounds; University of North Carolina at Pembroke; born: June 6, 2000 in Wilmington, N.C.) comes to the Blue Bombers after a collegiate career with the UNCP Braves (2018-2022) that saw him suit up for 46 games as a five-year starter and four-year captain. Jones threw for 2,302 yards and 13 touchdowns last year for the Braves while rushing for 219 yards and two more scores. Over his collegiate career he threw for 10,148 yards and 70 touchdowns while rushing for 10 more.

Dixon (six-foot, 220 pounds; Middle Tennessee State: born: in Charlotte, NC) spent his collegiate days at Middle Tennessee State as a redshirt senior in 2022 after previously playing at Towson State University (2017-2021). Dixon had 46 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last year at Middle Tennessee. In 2021 at Towson State he was named All-CAA Third Team linebacker after finishing with 73 total tackles and tying for the team lead with four sacks.

Wade (six-foot-one, 210 pounds; University of Iowa; born: March 16, 1998 in Skokie, IL.) played in 33 games over three seasons (2018-2021) with the Hawkeyes posting 23 tackles, a sack and two interceptions. Wade was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2021, and was later claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos. The linebacker played in four NFL games and had one tackle and one assist before joining the Bombers this season.

Taylor (six-foot-one, 246 pounds; University of Texas at El Paso; born: February 9, 1999 in Lufkin, TX.) began his collegiate career with Kilgore College (2018-2019) where the defensive end had 53 tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles across 21 games. He then transferred to UTEP (2020-2022), where he finished with 81 tackles, 19.5 tackle-for-losses, 16 sacks, six pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown over 32 games. Taylor was an Honourable Mention All-Conference USA in 2021 after a stellar campaign with 33 tackles 6.5 sacks, and a pass breakup in 13 games.

Schmekel (six-foot-two, 300 pounds, University of Regina; born: July 22, 1999, in Regina, SK) was a 2022 U SPORTS First-Team All-Canadian and Canada West All-Star. The defensive lineman started all eight Canada West games at defensive tackle in 2022, registering six tackles for loss including a pair of sacks during conference play. The three-time University of Regina Defensive Lineman of the Year finished the season with a total of 14 tackles (11 solo, six assisted) and a pass breakup. Schmekel redshirted with the Rams in 2017 before starting all eight games in 2018, leading the team’s linemen in tackles with 16.5 and adding 1.5 tackles for loss. He then played for the Regina Thunder (CJFL) in 2019 before returning to the Rams in 2021.

Rosery (five-foot-nine, 193 pounds, University of Alberta; born: January 16, 2000, in Edmonton, AB) was named a 2022 Canada West All-Star after amassing 536 yards on 29 receptions for two touchdowns and adding 160 more along the ground last season. In his four seasons with the Golden Bears, Rosery totalled 75 receptions for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns while adding 564 rushing yards and another score.

Kornelson (six-foot-three, 240 pounds, University of Manitoba; born: February 14, 2000, in Winnipeg, MB) stays home, moving down the hall from his University of Manitoba locker where he was team captain in 2022. After playing his minor football for the Valour Patriots and then the St. Paul’s Crusaders, Kornelson joined the Bisons in 2019. In six games in 2021, he recorded 18.5 tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss. He built on his totals in 2022, playing in all eight games and registered 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.

The Bombers also announced five more additions to their roster on Monday, including four American players in quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, receivers Otis Lanier and Matt Cole and defensive end/long-snapper Damian Jackson, as well as National receiver Michael O’Shea.

Pigrome (five-foot-ten, 200 pounds; Towson State; born: October 22, 1997, in Birmingham, AL.) comes to the Blue Bombers after a collegiate career spent at the University of Maryland (2016-2019), Western Kentucky University (2020) and most recently with Towson State (2022). He spent the 2021 season at Ole Miss but did not play. Pigrome threw for 1,638 yards and 14 touchdowns with the Tigers last year, rushing for an additional 574 yards and two more TDs. He was the 2015 Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Alabama while at Clay-Chalkville High.

Lanier (five-foot-ten, 185 pounds; Howard Payne University; born: October 7, 1997, in Houston, Tex.) spent the last two seasons with the Yellow Jackets. Last year he had 66 receptions for 955 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the American Southwest Conference in receiving yards, receptions per game and all-purpose yards. He also nine punt returns for 166 yards and one touchdown and was a First Team All-ASC selection. He had 46 receptions for 807 yards and nine TDs in 2021.

Cole (five-foot-ten, 197 pounds; McKendree University; born: November 7, 1996, in Chicago, IL.) arrives in Winnipeg after spending last year on the practice roster of the Washington Commanders. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 2020, he would later make his NFL debut later that season after being picked up by the San Francisco 49ers, making two tackles on special teams. Cole has also had stints with the New York Jets and Giants, the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks

Jackson (six-foot-two, 263 pounds; University of Buffalo; born July 22, 1992, in Las Vegas, NV) appeared in 13 games last year for the Bulls, including making nine starts at defensive end while handling the long-snapping chores. He had 27 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. He transferred from Nebraska, where he spent five seasons after initially walking on with the Cornhuskers. He was a member of the Navy SEALS for four years and was the 2021-Armed Forces Merit Award Winner.

O’Shea (six-foot, 183 pounds; Okanagan Sun; born: March 9, 2000 in Mississauga, ON) joins the Blue Bombers after two solid years with the Sun in the British Columbia Football Conference, including helping lead the squad to a 21-19 win over the Regina Thunder in the national championship last fall — a game in which he caught a touchdown pass and also had seven returns for 108 yards, earning him the Special Teams Player of the Game award. O’Shea had 28 receptions for 483 yards and eight touchdowns last season, adding another seven catches for 164 yards and a TD in the playoffs. In his first year with Okanagan, he had 27 catches for 654 yards and 11 TDs. He is also an exceptional kick returner, having taken five punt returns back for touchdowns in his two years with the Sun while averaging 25.9 yards per kickoff return last season. Those numbers earned him a spot on the Canadian Junior Football League First-Team All-Canadian squad. In 2021 he was a CJFL First-Team All-Canadian as a receiver. He is the son of Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea.

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