Bombers ink pair of intriguing small-school QBs, six others

Graphic: 3DownNation (Photos: Brant Turner/ Southwest Baptist Athletics | UNCP Braves Athletics)

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers made a slew of signings Sunday, including the addition of a pair of American quarterbacks, Josh Jones and Cooper Callis.

Jones was a five-year starter and four-year team captain at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, appearing in 46 games. The six-foot-three, 220-pound signal caller threw for 2,302 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2022, adding 219 rushing yards and 10 more scores on the ground on his way to honourable mention all-conference honours. He finishes his collegiate career as the Braves’ all-time record holder in passing yards and touchdowns responsible for, amassing 10,148 yards, 70 touchdowns through the air, and 17 more as a runner.

Callis played three seasons at Southwest Baptist University, suiting up in 25 games from 2020 to 2022. He completed 68.2 percent of his passes with the Bearcats for 7,712 yards, 73 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions while rushing for 407 yards and five more scores, earning a second-team all-conference selection in 2022. The six-foot-three, 215-pound pivot previously spent time at Pearl River Community College, Southern Illinois University, and Fullerton College.

Also signed by the Bombers were American linebackers Christian Dixon and Barrington Wade, American defensive end Jadrian Taylor, and three 2023 CFL Draft choices; defensive tackle Tanner Schmekel, running back Jonathan Rosery and defensive tackle Collin Kornelson.

Dixon transferred to Middle Tennessee State for his redshirt senior season in 2022, posting 46 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The six-foot, 220-pound linebacker previously played at Towson University, amassing 159 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 33 games. He was named third-team all-conference in 2021.

Wade dressed for 33 games over three seasons at the University of Iowa, posting 23 tackles, one sack and Two interceptions. The six-foot-one, 210-pound backer went unselected in the 2021 NFL Draft and later signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. He was waived in training camp and picked up by the Denver Broncos, playing four NFL games that season and recording one tackle.

Taylor was a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2022 after leading the conference with 9.5 sacks as a senior, adding 42 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a 100-yard fumble recovery touchdown. The six-foot-one, 246-pound pass rusher began his collegiate career at Kilgore College before transferring to the University of Texas-El Paso for his final three seasons. In 32 games, he finished with 81 tackles, 19.5 tackle-for-losses, 16 sacks, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Schmekel was selected with the 35th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2023 CFL Draft after being named a first-team All-Canadian and Canada West all-star in 2022. The six-foot-one, 290-pound defensive tackle played 24 games over four seasons at the University of Regina, interrupted only by a stint with the CJFL’s Regina Thunder in 2019. He collected 58 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks for the Rams.

Rosery was taken with the 62nd overall pick in the seventh round after earning Canada West all-star honours as a receiver in 2022. In four seasons at the University of Alberta, the five-foot-eight, 199-pound offensive weapon totalled 75 receptions for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns while adding 564 rushing yards and another score.

Kornelson was drafted 44th overall in the fifth round out of the University of Manitoba. The six-foot-two, 288-pound defensive tackle played 16 games over four seasons with the Bisons, collecting 45 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks.