June 12, 2017

Growing Up Fast

Receiver Richard Sindani during a pre-season game on June 6, 2017 (Photo by David Moll)

Just the other day while channel surfing, Jabari Arthur happened upon a show focusing on Chad Pennington, Giovanni Cornazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and ex-CFLer Spurgeon Wynn.

“They were talking about the six quarterbacks taken in front of Tom Brady in the (2000) NFL draft,’’ explains the retired receiver, who’s joined the U of C Dinos’ coaching staff this year to mentor, who else, the pass-catchers. “The Brady Six. None of them, as we know, turned out to be Tom Brady. None of them are even playing football anymore.

“Amazing, huh?

“You find that story in every level of every sport. The late-rounder who carves out an incredible career for himself.

“And this kid, Richard Sindani, his frame alone is already as good as any Canadian receiver in this league.

“All he needs is a little time, a little polish, and then … the ceiling for this guy is high. Very high.”

Selected by the Stampeders in the eighth round, 70th overall, in this year’s CFL draft, Sindani arrived from PJFC Calgary Colts after three seasons at the University of Regina.

Well, Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium, he ticked off one to-do item off his competitive bucket-list in short order, collaborating with Andrew Buckley for his first pro touchdown, a 24-yarder with 1:18 left that stood up as the decisive major against the Eskimos.

“It was,’’ confessed Sindani, “a pretty cool moment. To know my family was watching (on TSN), pretty special.

“Thrilling, actually. I can’t lie.

“At the same time, I feel those are things I need to prove to myself. I can do those things.

“Knowing yourself, to me, is the biggest thing. Especially when you’re asked to compete at your highest level, day-in and day-out.

“Here, you’re forced to do that.”

After a predictably bumpy beginning, the 21-year-old’s progress at camp has been stuck on speed-dial.

“When I first met him, over at the U of C, I was like ‘Okay. Young guy. Needs some work’,’” muses Arthur.

“But man, coming to this camp, in this environment, around professionals, helped him find something that maybe not even he thought he had inside himself.

“At first, he was sinking a bit. Like ‘Whoa!’ It must’ve seemed like so much to absorb. He might’ve still been surprised he got drafted, in the honeymoon phase of that, too.

“But the second week of camp, it just clicked in, you know what I’m saying? And he’s been on a steady rise ever since.”

Sindani admits the was a bit intimidating.

“Everything came at me real fast. It’s like you think maybe you’re going to have to weather a little snowstorm and suddenly there’s this avalanche.

“At the same time, I think I’ve taken it pretty well in stride. I’m just trying to take in as much information as I can.

“Thinking something is the first step. Knowing is the ability to put it into action.”

With two years of collegiate eligibility remaining, he most likely suits up this fall at the U of C and continues to further develop under the watchful mentorship of Arthur and Dinos’ offensive co-ordinator Ryan Sheahan.

“I looked at him as a big, athletic kid with potential,’’ says Stamps’ receivers coach Pete Costanza. “Possibly a project. He doesn’t look out of place out there. He’s in a good situation, with eligibility left at school.

“His time here has been invaluable. He’s gotten better and better. We’re getting to see him mature right in front of our eyes, which is pretty cool.”

As Coach Arthur said: A little time. A little polish. And then …

“Dave (Dickenson) said it the first day,’’ recalls Sandani. “I don’t remember the exact wording but the thrust of the message was: He doesn’t really care where you come from, what your background is, just come out here and play. It’s football. You’ve been playing since you were young. You’ve established your abilities and you should be able to show it with the material that’s been handed to you.

“When he told me that on the first time it just added to all the fuel I was already coming in with and I’m kinda riding that out right now.”

The scheduled two pre-season games are already in the books. A final show-the-coaching-staff scrimmage looms Thursday.

Cut-down day is Saturday.

“When I came in, the different possibilities never crossed my mind … staying, getting cut, going back to school,’’ Sindani says.

“I was just happy to be here.

“It’s really been just attack, attack, attack for me. Make the most you can out of everything; try to make every opportunity count.

“Like I said, prove it to yourself first. Then you can start proving it to the coaches, the other players, the quarterbacks. Earn that trust, prove you actually know what you’re doing and you’re confident in your abilities.”