MISSISSAUGA – Matt Sewell could not have envisioned a more surreal situation. The Argonauts 2013 first round draft selection joins a select group of professional athletes that have received the unique opportunity to play for their hometown teams.
Born and raised in Milton, Ontario, Sewell recalls attending Argonauts home games at the Rogers Centre ever since he was 10 years old.
“I grew up in Milton and I was going to Argos games since I was 10. They quickly developed into my favourite team,” stated Sewell.
Now 23, Sewell has certainly come a long way since then, both on and off the football field.
The “Big Bear”, as CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon referred to him while announcing the Argonauts eighth overall selection, is also currently under contract with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Despite his current NFL situation, Sewell says he was ecstatic when he received the news that he been drafted by the Argonauts.
“I’m really happy to have been selected by my hometown team. I’m excited to have the opportunity to play in Toronto,” commented Sewell in a phone interview.
The former McMaster Marauder offensive lineman entered the draft as the No.4 ranked player. However, picking the top-rated offensive line prospect in the country inevitably comes with some risk.
As Sewell continues to prepare for his opportunity south of the border with the Titans, there is the lingering possibility that the hulking offensive lineman might never suit up for a game in the Canadian Football League. Despite the uncertainty, Argonauts’ General Manager, Jim Barker, elected to roll the dice on a highly touted player with strong roots in the Greater Toronto Area.
“He’s doing his NFL thing now so who knows how he’ll do. He goes down to camp Thursday with Tennessee and we’ll know more after that,” explained Barker. “We are very excited to get a player of Matt’s (Sewell) caliber in the first round. Ultimately we felt like Matt was the best for us.”
At McMaster, Sewell started at left tackle for four seasons where he protected the blind side of two-time HEC Creighton Award winning quarterback, Kyle Quinlan. In 2012, Sewell was also a nominee for the HEC Creighton Award. The 23-year-old anchored a strong McMaster offensive front en route to earning First Team OUA and Second Team CIS All-Canadian honours.
The 6-foot-8, 335-pound offensive lineman is currently exploring all of his football options and assures that he is not ruling out playing for the Argonauts in the CFL.
“I’m going to go down to Tennessee and see what happens, but I’m also going to work for the opportunity here (in Toronto) as well”, said Sewell.
Argonauts’ General Manager, Jim Barker, affirms that the Boatmen received great value with their eighth overall selection and is excited to have such a talented Canadian offensive lineman within the organization.
“It was an exciting day. When you draft last, you never know what is going to happen but it turned into an exciting day and the NFL signings allowed some things to transpire differently than if they would not have happened,” said Barker. “In the first round, we were able to get a great future prospect in this league and a local guy as well.”
While Barker believes that Sewell has “huge upside”, there is still a possibility that the towering offensive lineman may go on to have a successful career in the NFL. However, in Barker’s eyes, that is a risk you have to take in order to acquire a player of Sewell’s caliber.
“He could go down there and be a ten-year NFL veteran,” stated Barker in a post-draft interview with Argos T.V. “You never know but you have to place value when you have your pick and who may be the best value for that pick. We were stunned that Matt fell to us but we are excited about it.”
For Sewell, he is thrilled with his current football situation. If he fails to make an NFL squad, the “Big Bear” is perfectly comfortable with returning to Canada to play for his hometown team.
Sewell holds the Argonauts close to his heart. After all, there is simply no place like home and it would be very fitting if the young boy that once used to sit in the Rogers Centre stands emerged as a star while playing for his favourite CFL team.