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Jordan Reaves looking to make transition from basketball back to football

04/01/2015 05:49 EDT | Updated 06/01/2015 05:59 EDT
Jordan Reaves has reunited with his first love.

Reaves is a football player again after concentrating solely on basketball for the past 10 years. Despite the absence, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers put Reaves, 25, on their negotiation list, a move Reaves validated at a CFL regional combine last month in Edmonton.

But the six-foot-five, 220-pound Winnipeg native admits he has plenty of catching up to do in order to make the team his father, Willard, starred with in the 1980s.

"Absolutely, I'd be stupid to think I could jump into this and be good to go," Jordan Reaves said via telephone from Winnipeg on Wednesday. "I definitely have some work to do. I've got to sharpen up my skills, I have to watch film and basically re-learn the game.

"The game has definitely changed since I played and there's being at the pro level with all the big boys and people who can play. But I thrive under pressure . . . this just seems like a big obstacle for me but when I see an obstacle I smile because I know I'm going to crush it the best way I can."

Willard Reaves spent five seasons as a running back with Winnipeg ('83-'87), three times cracking the 1,000-yard plateau and in '84 being named the league's outstanding player after rushing for a league-high 1,733 yards. The three-time CFL all-star capped that campaign by helping the Bombers beat Hamilton 47-17 in the Grey Cup.

Jordan Reaves hasn't signed with Winnipeg although talks between the club and his agent, Montreal-based Darren Gill, continue. Reaves is hopeful he'll be under contract in time for the Bombers' pre-season camp in Florida next month.

Reaves played football growing up before moving full-time into basketball because his high school didn't have a gridiron program. Reaves then played collegiately at the University of Brandon (2009-'14).

After university, Reaves spent two months in Europe trying to earn a pro contract, first arriving in Spain then attending tryouts in Slovenia and France before returning home. That's when neighbour Demitris Scouras, a former CFL kicker, encouraged Reaves to resume playing football.

"Growing up, (football) was always my first sport so it was just natural to come back to it," he said. 'Basketball wasn't working out and I had this opportunity and jumped on it.

"When I played basketball I was always overly physical and everyone asked me why I didn't play football . . . when I got this opportunity it seemed like the right fit. The first week I was a little rusty getting my footwork back but a couple of weeks in it just felt natural."

Reaves performed well last month at the Edmonton combine. He finished second among receivers in the bench press (19 reps of 225 pounds), 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds) and broad jump (10 feet, one-half inch) while also working out at defensive back, where he could utilize his basketball skills.

"The footwork is the same, the lateral movement from basketball, for sure, will help me, keeping people in front of me," he said. "The overall court awareness of basketball transfers to football more than people think."

Reaves is attempting to become the third family member to break into pro sports. His brother, Ryan, is currently with the NHL's St. Louis Blues.

"It's amazing that me and my brother are in professional sports," he said. "Obviously my dad had his own legacy in Winnipeg and if I had the opportunity I'd try and start my own legacy and make my own name for myself.

"Obviously, I have very big shoes to fill."

And Reaves would like trying to fill those shoes as a wide receiver.

"I feel more comfortable at wideout because I have the height and vertical ability," he said. "My whole career was jumping for rebounds and I feel I'd be perfect for a jump ball.

"But at this point if they think I'd be better on defence I'd have no problem going there. I just feel more comfortable on offence because that's where I played growing up."

It's unclear what plans, if any, Winnipeg has for Reaves. Team spokesman Darren Cameron said Wednesday in an email GM Kyle Walters would discuss Reaves' situation "if and when he signs a contract. At this point he is not under contract to the club."

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