Canadian Signs Two-Year Deal With Redskins
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
Lumsden earned the Hec Creighton Award as Canada's top collegiate football player for the 2004 season. He broke CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) league records for the McMaster Marauders in both yards and touchdowns with 1,816 and 21 respectively. He also broke the CIS career mark for touchdowns with 47 and Ontario University mark with 4,238 career rushing yards.
Canadian university football stars rarely create much ado south of the border, but Lumsden's season was so spectacular that he earned an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl in San Francisco. He made the most of that opportunity despite not getting to play until the 3rd quarter, and led all running backs in the game with 41 yards on 8 carries. The performance wasn't enough to get selected in the 2005 NFL Draft, but it was enough to prompt the Seattle Seahawks to sign him as an unrestricted free agent.
With league MVP Shaun Alexander carrying the rock for the Seahawks though, there wasn't much chance of Lumsden winning a starting job. A hip injury at the wrong time kept him from making much of a run at it regardless. That and eight other running backs at Seattle's training camp last summer. The Seahawks cut Lumsden, and he returned to Canada to play for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL.
The Tiger Cats drafted Jesse with the 6th overall pick in the CFL draft in 2005, just two days after he had signed a contract with the Seahawks. The Ticats had just hired a new head coach in Greg Marshall, the man who had coached Lumsden for four years with McMaster. Marshall thought enough of the 23-year old to use Hamilton's first pick on a guy that might never play for them.
Lumsden played in seven games for the Tiger Cats and ran for 307 yards on 60 carries. He also added 153 yards on 11 receptions out of the backfield. Hamilton's general manager Rob Kratz stated, "His performance (last year) bode well for him to see a lot of playing time this year (as Hamilton's feature running back)." His unique blend of speed, and strength landed him on kickoff returns as well, where he registered 259 yards on 11 returns. It is that blend of speed and strength that had as many as 5 other NFL teams looking at game film of him. Whether it was the $10,000 signing bonus, or just the fact that it was a two-year contract offered, Jesse chose the Redskins as his next stop.
Interestingly, Lumsden had his possible return to the NFL written into his contract with the Ticats. He signed a one-year deal with an option, and with the added stipulation that he is granted permission to return for another shot at the NFL in 2006, and Hamilton would still retain his rights. "He wanted to give it one more shot," Kratz said, "Being totally up front with us, we were able to prepare."
Lumsden is obviously fighting an uphill battle and may very well return to the Tiger Cats in 2006. Cracking a running back lineup that already contains names like Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright will be tough indeed. So is Lumsden just a warm body at training camp?
His best shot will probably come on special teams. Lumsden has always been a very gifted athlete and will need to show that athleticism with and without the ball on teams' play. The Redskins struggled to find a consistent return game in 2005 with Antonio Brown providing more drama than yards, so there's certainly possible job openings.
At 6'3" and 230 pounds, there may be other options for the big back from Burlington, Ontario. Lumsden has good hands and may have some potential in the H-back role that Joe Gibbs employs. He's likely too small to play tight end at the NFL level, but he may be able to find a niche as a project player and special teams standout. Also with Al Saunders coming in to co-ordinate the offense, Washington may employ a more traditional fullback in some sets and Lumsden might fit in there too.
The road to making the team will be long, but Jesse will be joined in his journey to Redskin Park by Hamilton teammate Jonta Woodward and fellow Canadian Kerry Carter. Woodward is a massive offensive tackle with tremendous potential, and Carter is another phenomenal athlete coming in at running back.
Together the three of them will try to become household American names… at least in Washington.
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