June 24, 2019

The QB-Receiver Chemistry

Drew Wolitarsky will never be dubbed ‘speed daemon.’ He’s not the tallest Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver, either.

But the third-year pro does have a knack of finding the end zone, and that was evident again in the Bombers season-opening win over the B.C. Lions when he latched on to two of the three touchdowns Matt Nichols tossed.

There’s more to this: dating back to the end of the regular season and including the playoffs last year, Wolitarsky has now caught four of the last six TD passes Nichols has thrown.

“It kinda started last year. It’s just friendship and it’s trust,” said Wolitarsky when asked about the chemistry he has developed with Nichols. “It’s not always easy to have because it means you have to come out every day and perform and give your best effort. He’s willing to do that and I’m willing to do that.

“…That’s being here exactly the same time every day. That’s getting your reps every day. That’s practising even though you’re a little nicked up. You can’t take three days off playing the game and expect that chemistry to be there. That’s an everyday thing. It goes beyond playing, too. It’s who listens, who talks and just being on the same page.”

Wolitarsky’s transformation since his arrival after training camp in 2017 as a CFL Supplemental Draft pick has been extraordinary.

“I think I’m a lot faster, a lot skinnier,” said Wolitarsky with a chuckle. “I was working at a restaurant and eating a lot of steak in the back… it was pretty overwhelming, I would say, coming in late and not having a camp to go through, opening the playbook and going, ‘What is this?’

“it’s amazing that now I can look at a play and in three seconds know what I’m doing. It’s been quite a journey for me and my family. I’m fortunate to be here and I think about that all the time.”


Nichols is also working to develop that same kind of chemistry with wide receiver Chris Matthews, who had another solid day of work in his quest to be added to the lineup for Thursday’s home opener.

“Better and better each day,” said Nichols of Matthews. “He’s committed to learning the playbook, learning multiple positions and obviously he’s a very talented football player who brings something extra to our offence. I look forward to getting to work with him more and more and see how that develops.”

“He looked good again today, for sure,” added head coach Mike O’Shea. “He looked really good. But, as always, we’ll wait until we have to declare our roster to make that decision.”


Nichols has spoken before about the adrenaline that comes on game day and that rush is probably even greater for a home opener. The key for Nichols is to find a perfect blend of fire and ice.

“It’s more about reining back the excitement and the emotions,” he said. “When you hear your home crowd when you come running out, especially in my position, you don’t want to be too over-excited. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that these days.

“It’s very exciting, they bring a lot of energy and there’s nothing better than when you make a big play or throw a touchdown in front of the crowd here and hear that eruption.

“For me it’s understanding that I’m going to feel the excitement, it’s just reining that in a little bit and making sure you’re ready to go Snap 1.”