Geoff Gray is returning to Investors Group Field — but he will be wearing a new uniform.
The 23-year-old, six-foot-six, 310-pound offensive lineman has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to help protect their quarterback. Gray was selected eighth overall by the Bombers in the 2017 CFL draft.
Gray pursued some NFL opportunities following his career at the University of Manitoba. He first signed with the Green Bay Packers, before getting some time with the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns practice squads. He did not find a fit with a team in the NFL, which led him to come back to his hometown and play in Winnipeg.
“I look forward to being able to play at home in front of family and friends,” Gray told Global News.
Gray said he is looking forward to a more stable situation in the CFL, as he prefers to get settled in one place and not have to move multiple times in a season.
“I just want to get in a football situation where I feel a bit more stable and comfortable,” Gray said.
“For me, personally, I’d like to be settled. I don’t like moving around a whole bunch. Logistically it’s a pain.”
When Gray was waived by the Packers and signed to the Jets practice squad, he took the 15-hour drive from Green Bay to New Jersey and does not recommend it.
Winnipeg will now have an NFL-experienced lineman coming to get settled with the team. Although the NFL did not work out for Gray, he is still confident coming to the CFL.
“My experience in the NFL hasn’t put any doubt in my ability to play football,” Gray said.
“I still feel I have the physical ability, it’s just developing as a professional player in terms of my techniques as an offensive lineman.”
Gray has been a dominant force throughout his career and started 30 of 32 regular season games through four seasons with the University of Manitoba Bisons.
In 2017, the Winnipeg product was a U Sports first-team all-star and the Canada West outstanding down lineman.
Bisons football head coach Brian Dobie told gobisons.ca he and the rest of the staff are excited to watch Gray play for the Bombers.
“We’re really happy and proud to have Geoff back at home with our Winnipeg Blue Bombers,” said Dobie.
“We can’t wait to see him across the hall in the Blue and Gold locker room.”
Even with all of his U Sports success and experience in the NFL, Gray said he knows he will need to show the coaches he deserves a spot in the starting lineup.
“I want to play, but I’m not going to have a fit if I’m not playing the first game,” Gray said.
“I understand I’m coming back and how far they are into the season. I just want to play well and if I’m playing well, then I’m going to play.”
The Bombers have two more regular season games remaining as the club fights for seeding in the tightly-contested western conference.