Niagara Gazette


May 31, 2011

Niagara Falls' Greg Betterson signs with CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers

NIAGARA FALLS — Greg Betterson’s persistence is finally paying off.

The Niagara Falls native spent Memorial Day weekend gearing up for a move to Canada. He arrived in Winnipeg on Tuesday to sign a contract with the Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

“I’m excited to get back on the field,” said Betterson, who begins rookie camp today before starting training camp Sunday. “It’s been a while.”

Betterson, a 6-foot receiver who turns 25 this week, has weathered a winding road in his pursuit of a professional football career.

After playing at both Niagara Falls High School and Niagara Catholic, Betterson attended a junior college and received a scholarship offer to play at Division I-AA Central Connecticut State before being declared academically ineligible. He eventually played at Division II Delta State in Mississippi, becoming an all-conference performer and a fringe draft prospect.

After going undrafted in 2009, Betterson received a tryout with the Buffalo Bills, then was drafted into the United National Gridiron League, a developmental outfit that never got off the ground. He sat out the entire 2009 season hoping to catch on with an NFL team.

Last spring, after showing off his speed at the University at Buffalo pro day, Betterson was invited to the Calgary Stampeders rookie camp. But he aggravated a groin injury that originally occurred at the pro day workout, and the CFL club opted to go with a healthier receiver.

“It never fully recovered, but I had no choice but to go there for camp,” Betterson said. “It took probably two months after that to heal.”

At that point, Betterson decided to move down to Greenville, N.C. to start working out with former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl.

“I wanted to work with a position coach who could help me with my route running,” Betterson said. “To be able to work with someone who has won Super Bowls, you can’t ask for anything better than that. He’s a real, nice, humble guy. He conducted the workouts in a professional manner, and he’s taught me how to use my speed and quickness to manipulate the DBs.”

Proehl was impressed by Betterson’s perseverance and desire to learn, and told CFL scouts they would be getting “a kid that is really going to work his tail off.”

“He’s got such a passion to play the game and the neat thing about working with Greg is he absorbs everything and he’s always willing to work to get better,” Proehl said. “He’s got great hands, strong hands, he’s physical, and he’s got all the speed you can hope for. If continues to work on his route running, I think he’ll have a shot later on in the National Football League.”

Betterson also got to work with strength coach Joe Kenn, who has since been hired by the Carolina Panthers, adding 11 pounds of muscle while retaining the speed to run the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at his most recent workout for scouts.

Betterson said he received a two-year contract offer from the Blue Bombers with an option to leave after one year if he draws interest from the NFL. Either way, he’s happy he didn’t give up on his dream while being out of football the past two years.

“One thing I’d like to say for all the younger athletes in our community is if you have a dream, chase it,” Betterson said. “Don’t be scared to fail. Keep God first and work hard. Don’t let nobody outwork you and things will fall into place.”

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