HAMILTON — - Adewale Ojomo and Julian Posey thought they had the football world at their feet, two athletically gifted players who line up on the defensive side of the ball, two skilled athletes who both figured all was good in their sporting universe.
Turns out it was too good until reality struck, their NFL dreams effectively coming to an end at virtually the same time.
Both of their football roads would take them to the Hammer, where late last season Ojomo and Posey were signed to the Ticats practice roster.
For many, being assigned to a CFL practice roster is akin to football purgatory, the money diminished, the opportunity to play in a real game limited, but it was an opportunity for both to re-evaluate their careers.
And once they were exposed to the CFL culture, Ojomo and Posey had an awakening, a rebirth that has made each much more appreciative of their opportunity.
“Basically, it was a very humbling experience,’’ Ojomo began on Tuesday, the second day of Ticats mini-camp. “And I’m just thankful to be playing football.
“I was able to learn the CFL style, but I also learned about being humble working with your teammates, working with your coaches and not making yourself better than anybody else, if you know what I mean. It opened my eyes, it showed me a lot.”
There’s always a sense of entitlement when one reaches the highest level of one’s athletic profession, selfishness compromising the team goal.
At 6-foot-5, Ojomo can line up at defensive end or move inside at tackle.
“We think he has a chance to be a versatile player,’’ Ticats defensive co-ordinator Orlondo Steinauer said of Adewale. “He has a longer frame, long-armed guy who is different than (Justin) Hickman and (Eric) Norwood (two incumbents on the defensive line).
“He (Ojomo) brings length and has more of a bull rush. He’s a hard-working kid and he’s humble. It’s why he’s gotten another look, it’s why he’s at OTA.”
Posey, whose brother plays for the NFL’s Houston Texans, has all the necessary physical attributes to play in any CFL defensive backfield.
But like Ojomo, Posey needed to take a step back before moving forward, his awakening arriving when he had a sit down with Steinauer.
“You’re a guy who is very charismatic and guys get behind you,’’ said Posey of what Steinauer would relate. “Coach O wanted me to understand that I didn’t have to be so competitive where you put a teammate down. He wanted me to lead and don’t talk about necessarily being the better player.”
At Ohio, one of Posey’s teammates was Chip Cox, an anchor on the Als’ defence and one of the premier defensive players in three-down football.
“I took a lot of things personally in life,’’ said Posey of his mental approach prior to his arrival in the Hammer. “With that being said, when I came up here I began taking a different approach and it allowed me to see the world differently.
“I started to see how to become a quiet-storm leader, which I wasn’t able to excel. I did it in college, at high school, but at the pro level I lost it. It felt good to get it back at the pro level.”
Last year’s brief exposure to the CFL game allowed Posey and Adewale to assimilate to the rules and playing style.
Adewale’s quickness allows him to run sideline to sideline and pressure the backfield.
For Posey, it was the foot work that expanded his game.
When he trained with his NFL-playing brother this off-season, Posey showed better technique.
“Different angles and spacing are required in the CFL,’’ said Posey, whose distant cousin is former hoopster and NBA champion James Posey.
Posey believes he can line up anywhere in the secondary.
“My name is Julian Posey and I guard any and everybody. It’s that simple.”