May 19, 2016

Alex Vitt: A homegrown story

May 18, 2016

Even if it ended right here and right now, Alex Vitt would still have a heckuva tale to tell about his football career.

His amateur resume positively glows, dating all the way back to his first days as a member of the Greendell Falcons through to the St. Vital Mustangs, Winnipeg Rifles and University of Manitoba Bisons.

But, man oh man, the 25-year-old J.H. Bruns Collegiate product would love to pen another chapter with his hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Last week, Vitt was the Bombers’ seventh-round choice (55th overall) in the Canadian Football League Draft, and next week he’ll be on the field for the opening of rookie camp.

“It’s like a dream come true, to be honest,” said Vitt. “I’ve watched them play since the old Canad Inns (Stadium) days. I used to go to games there all the time. It’s great. Friends and family can come out and we’re all cheering for the same team.

“We were joking… I don’t have to move to a new town, I already know the route to the stadium. It’s just one different turn out of the elevator in the basement, to the Bombers (dressing room) instead of the Bisons.”

Vitt posted some juicy numbers during his final year with the Bisons, pulling in 30 passes for 711 yards and four touchdowns in eight conference games. He’s got good size at 6-1, 205 lbs, but it’s the intangible stuff that has endeared him to every coach who has worked with him over the years.

WINNIPEG, MB - Bisons vs UBC  September 19: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Jeff Miller-Bison Sports-“He is almost-assuredly the single-most respected player on our team,” said Bisons head coach Brian Dobie. “He’s a team captain, but he’s earned every bit of that respect. He’s humble, he’s hard working… he does everything right. Everything. The best thing I can say about Alex is he does, and will, maximize his potential in his preparation and in the moment. He learns quickly, he will hustle and he will adapt.

“He’s the consummate prep guy and then he goes out and makes big plays in games. He plays like his character: he’s relentless, he perseveres.

“Now, does he run the fastest 40? Nope. Does he have the best vertical? Nope. But at the end of the day, intrinsics count for a ton and that guy plays the game at 100 miles per hour.”

The Bombers like Vitt’s receiver skill set, but Dobie – who was to meet with Vitt on Thursday to discuss next week’s rookie camp – believes the biggest impact he could make, at least initially, is on special teams.

“No one is expecting Alex Vitt to go in and be a CFL all-star or start in his first year,” said Dobie. “But if he gets the chance, they’ll notice his abilities on special teams.

“He was the best special-teams player in our program, but we couldn’t use him there because he was our best receiver the last couple of years.”

As excited as Vitt is about his next opportunity with the Bombers, the last few days have also given him a chance to reminisce about what’s in his rear-view mirror.Winnipeg, Manitoba - Bisons Football vs Regina Rams October 2. Jeff Miller-Bison Sports-

“Once I get my (Bombers) helmet I’m going to take a bunch of pictures of it and reminisce about everything,” said Vitt. “And it will become real the first day of camp, absolutely.

“It’s funny, when I was with the Rifles I thought, ‘this might be it’. And then when I came to the Bisons I thought this might be the last stop as well. I guess about halfway through the year I thought, ‘Oh, wow… this (the CFL) might be a possibility.’”

Vitt was one of four Bisons selected in last week’s draft, along with defensive lineman David Onyemata (selected by Saskatchewan; signed with New Orleans after being drafted by them), offensive lineman Alex McKay (Saskatchewan) and linebacker D.J. Lalama (Edmonton).

“I had my laptop and was watching it on TV in the Bisons dressing room,” Vitt said. “Alex McKay went to Saskatchewan (three picks before him) and so we were celebrating that, I was texting him, and then my teammate beside me says, ‘Oh, Alex Vitt got picked.’ I looked down (at his laptop) and it was ‘Look at that… Winnipeg.’

“Right when my name went across my phone exploded and everyone was trying to call me. I actually missed a call from Coach O’Shea because my phone was going up. Coach Dobie had to text me to say, ‘You’ve got to call this man right now.’ I heard from him and he just said, ‘Congratulations on being picked. We want you to go out in training camp and strut your stuff, show what you can do and go smash people.’ He said don’t worry about what number you were picked, which was never an issue for me. It doesn’t matter when you are picked.

“I’m going to go in as healthy as I can, do whatever is asked of me and do it to the best of my ability. The goal right now is to make the team.”


-With files from Bisons Sports Information Director Chris Zuk