Lineman in limbo

Matt O'Donnell has not reported to the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders and his future remains unclear

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have wrapped up their preseason schedule without former Gael Matt O’Donnell. Team representatives said they don’t know whether their second round draft pick will ever join them.

O’Donnell, who hasn’t played basketball since 2007, spent the past month working out with the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics.

The offensive lineman was drafted 15th overall by the Roughriders in the CFL draft in May, but chose to explore other options instead.

The Roughriders rookie training camp started in Regina on June 1. Instead of flying to Saskatchewan, O’Donnell went to Boston for a workout with the NBA’s Celtics. Since then, he’s also gone through a session with the Toronto Raptors.

The 6’11 man hasn’t played competitive basketball since high school. He wasn’t selected in the NBA entry draft last week.

“I will just keep training, and see what happens,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t know what to expect, or where I will be going. That’s all up to my agent.”

O’Donnell’s agent, Johnathon Hardaway, declined to comment to the Journal.

O'Donnell said he hasn't ruled out a CFL career yet.

“The Riders have made some public comments that I was not happy with, but I have to follow to my dreams,” he said. “There are too many variables ... with the NFL and stuff like that.” It’s no secret that O’Donnell has NFL aspirations. In January, he participated in the East-West Shrine Game, America’s annual college all-star game. He was not selected in the NFL draft in April.

O’Donnell has missed over three weeks of training camp, and the Roughriders begin the regular season on July 3. However, O’Donnell said that making the team remains a possibility.

“It’s not done,” he said.

Former NBA player Vernell Coles worked with O’Donnell before his NBA tryouts. Coles said those sessions were supposed to continue, but that he hasn’t heard back from O’Donnell’s agent.

Roughriders’ Football Operations Coordinator Jeremy O’Day said the team doesn’t know if or when the former Gael will show up.

O’Day also said O’Donnell will suffer from missing training camp.

“Anytime you’re a rookie and come into camp, you’re already behind the eight-ball,” O’Day said. “When you come in later, it makes it all that much harder.”

Roughriders officials declined to comment on contract negotiations with O’Donnell.

“There are cuts to make,” Community Relations Coordinator Kelly Forsberg said. “We’re focusing on that.”

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