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Canada's Lumsden Hopes to Beat the Odds

It's the time of the year when the off-season roster swells and hope springs, as they say, eternal.

Among the players working hard to beat what would appear to be long odds is Jesse Lumsden, one of five running backs on the Redskins' off-season roster.

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For starters, Lumsden didn't even play his college ball in this country. He's a product of McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. That's an Ivy League-type setting, which is to say a school with a strong academic reputation.

Lumsden, at 6-2, 219 pounds, comes to the Redskins with something of an unusual background--but he's not letting that stand in his way.

"This is a great opportunity for me here with the Redskins," says the 23-year-old native of Burlington, Ontario. "I'll do whatever it takes, study all the film, work out, whatever.

"I'm green, I've got a lot to learn. I've hit some bumps in the road in terms of trying to make an NFL team but I'm ready to do whatever it takes."

At McMaster, Lumsden won the Hec Crighton Trophy, Canada's verson of the the Heisman. His college career was astounding.

In Canadian college ball, the field is 110 yards long. Lumsden once broke through for a touchdown run of 108 yards. He also carried 24 times for--get this--344 yards in a game.

Those performances earned him a brief stay with the Seattle Seahawks during preseason last year and also stint in the CFL with Hamilton.

Louis Riddick, the Redskins' director of pro personnel, liked what he saw of Lumsden, who ran a 4.43 40 at Redskins Park.

Says Lumsden: "I played four years at McMaster and we never won the national championship, but we won three conference championships. I look at my statistics up there as not a personal achievement, but as something I was able to do in conjunction with my offensive line."

Lumsden's father, Neil, played in the CFL for three teams and earned three Grey Cup rings.

From time to time, the Redskins have plucked a player out of the CFL, Mike Sellers being a prominent example.

Lumsden is making a bid to become the first Canadian to play for the Redskins since defensive tackle Doug Brown in the late 1990s. Brown, a rugby player, played his college football at Simon Fraser in British Columbia.

Asked about his current stay with the Redskins, Lumsden said: "It's obvious that you have to work really hard to stay here. [Running backs coach] Earnest Byner played the game at a high level and he has so much knowledge to impart.

"The running backs on the team? They're all good people--and players from whom I can learn a lot."

It's way too soon, of course, to start sorting out a young player's chances of sticking with the Redskins.

But in the case of 23-year-old Jesse Lumsden, that 344-yard rushing total in a single game at the very least gets a conversation going.

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