Tyler Digby (10) has professional options in both football and lacrosse.CFL teams often have to worry about losing drafted talent to the NFL, but it's rare when there's another league in the picture, and even more unusual when it's one from a completely different sport. That's the case with one pick from the 2013 CFL draft, though, Tyler Digby. The Ottawa Redblacks drafted Digby, a redshirt junior tight end at Robert Morris University (NCAA Division I FCS), 36th overall this year, but he was also chosen 20th overall by the Vancouver Stealth in the National Lacrosse League's entry draft last month. (He's also previously been selected by the Western Lacrosse Association's Burnaby Lakers and played with them last summer, recording 10 goals and 13 assists in 15 games.) Digby is playing both football and lacrosse on scholarship on Robert Morris, and he's obviously making waves in both sports. He told The Ottawa Sun's Tim Baines he hasn't decided which one he'll pursue yet, but he's thinking of giving the CFL a try:
“I haven’t played Canadian football in a long time, but I’m willing to give it a shot," said Digby.
However, Digby's other comments to Baines suggest he hasn't ruled out the chances of playing lacrosse professionally instead. For the moment, he said he's mostly focused on his NCAA career:
"Right now, I’m just focusing on my last season at Robert Morris,” said Digby. “I’ve been very lucky to be able to play both sports. I love both of them. I don’t have a favourite per se.”
If Digby does opt for lacrosse instead of the CFL, that isn't necessarily disastrous for Ottawa. For one thing, he was the franchise's last selection in this year's draft (at the end of the fourth round), so it's not like they'd be losing their top pick. For another, he doesn't have a clear position at the next level; most of his experience is as a tight end, which isn't often used in CFL offensive sets these days. Beyond that, too, even if he does go to lacrosse, he may return to football down the line. Still, he's a 6'3'', 250-pound guy with obvious athletic ability, and he could perhaps play multiple roles on offence, potentially lining up as a fullback, a tight end or a slot receiver. Just because tight ends aren't often used doesn't mean the position can't be effective, either; Montreal's found great success in the last couple of years rotating Patrick Lavoie through a variety of fullback, H-back and tight end looks, and Digby's a guy who could perhaps fit that mould. Thus, the Redblacks would obviously love to be able to get at least a look at him in training camp.
This won't be the first case of a CFL player (or potential CFL player) who's shone in other sports. Amongst others, hockey player and skateboarder Chris Hodgson was drafted in 2011 (he got looks with Montreal and B.C., but didn't last long in either city), while 2012 draft pick Luke Willson was a former Blue Jays' prospect in baseball (he's since been drafted by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and plays with them). Heck, Matt O'Donnell put off reporting to CFL camps for NBA tryouts (but that was probably more about waiting for the NFL lockout to end). While some athletes are incredibly specialized, some are great at a variety of sports, and that cross-sport experience can do a lot to help you in football, which is why teams take draft gambles on players like Digby. With that said, though, drafting a multi-sport athlete also carries the risk that he'll never play for your team. We'll see if the Digby move pays off for the Redblacks.