Canyon football grad catches on in Canada

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League selected Canyon High grad and former Minnesota Golden Gopher Drew Wolitarsky (82) on Tuesday in the supplemental draft. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletic Communications

After weeks of bearing the weight of bad news and good food, Canyon High graduate Drew Wolitarsky got a pick-me-up Tuesday when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League selected him in the league’s supplemental draft.

The Blue Bombers will forfeit a third-round pick in the 2018 CFL Draft in exchange for the former University of Minnesota receiver.

“With bad news after bad news, to get great news is a great relief and a boost of confidence,” Wolitarsky, who made 66 catches for 860 yards and five touchdowns last season as a senior Golden Gopher, said by phone.

After going undrafted in April’s NFL Draft, Wolitarsky signed a rookie minicamp deal with the Minnesota Vikings. After the camp, however, the Vikings did not sign Wolitarsky to a contract for the fall.

At that point, figuring he should make some money while waiting on his next football move, Wolitarsky went to work at Bellecour, a French bistro and bakery in Wayzata, Minnesota.

For a month and a half, he took on his first “real job” as a back waiter in the kitchen of renowned chef Gavin Kaysen, who recently served the Dalai Lama.

“(Kaysen) basically gave me a lot of confidence to keep pushing and work hard,” Wolitarsky said.

Wolitarsky caught 66 passes for 860 yards last season as a senior at Minnesota. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletic Communications

Then Wolitarsky’s brother gave him an idea. Why not give the Canadian Football League a shot? Wolitarsky’s mother Audrey, after all, is a Canadian citizen.

So, roughly two weeks ago, Wolitarsky hit up his agent and applied for Canadian citizenship. The request was granted in one day, he said, and it made him all the more valuable as CFL rules state each team must start at least seven Canadian nationals.

“I’m in a good position and fortunate to be in that position and help them both by being a Canadian and (from the Big Ten),” he said.

Wolitarsky, Minnesota’s ninth all-time leading receiver in terms of yardage, said he hasn’t signed any documents, but he received a congratulatory call from the Blue Bombers coach on Tuesday.

In about a week, Wolitarsky plans to pack up, get a car and travel to Winnipeg. Then he’ll have to dive quickly into the team’s playbook.

The CFL season started on June 22. Wolitarsky is ready, he said, to make an impact.

“That’s cool that they’ve shown a lot of faith in me already without knowing me,” he said. “They are definitely in for a very pleasant surprise. I’m going to give it my all.”

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