NFL-bound: U of M football player signs with Green Bay Packers

Geoff Gray says he never thought much about making it to the NFL, but that's exactly where he's headed.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old offensive lineman signed as a priority free agent with the Green Bay Packers, the second U of M Bisons player to get an NFL spot in as many years after defensive lineman David Onyemata signed with the New Orleans Saints last year.

"It's nothing that I ever really, like, thought about ever happening going into it," Gray said Sunday at a spring camp at U of M.

"It's not that I doubt myself, it's just that I don't think about it one way or the other. I just go along playing football, training and doing what I do, and I don't really think about the consequences of it down the road. I never did," he said.

"I just kind of went along doing my thing and it just seems to work out well."

The six-foot-six, 310-pound player said courting teams throughout the draft weekend was hectic. He'd been talking to a handful of other teams including the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.

But Gray had already gone to visit the Packers program and said he had a good feeling about the team and coach.

"So it came down to it that the Packers said, 'Hey, we need to move onto our second option if you don't decide soon,' so you kind of put the pressure on and I just kind of went with my gut on it," he said.

Bisons head coach Brian Dobie said he wasn't shocked to see Gray on his way to the NFL. 

"I think as an offensive lineman, his intelligence is extremely evident and I think that's a big part of it," Dobie said. "That's a tough position to play. People might argue with me — I think next to quarterback it's the toughest position to play on a cerebral in football.

"When I was talking to all the NFL people and trying to acquaint them with Geoff, I would always say, 'He's a Stanford guy, he's a Harvard type guy. That's what you'd be getting in terms of that component.'"

Three other Canadian players joined NFL teams over the weekend: offensive tackle Justin Senior was drafted by the Seattle Seahawkks and tight end Anthony Auclair and defensive lineman Eli Ankou were both signed as free agents.

Dobie said it's a proud day for Bisons coaches and players.

"It says a lot about Canadian college football," he said.

"People that aren't coming to the games are missing a great product. And yeah, OK, we're not Alabama. And I'm not just talking about Manitoba, I'm talking about U SPORTS," he said. "But I'll tell you what, there's a lot of players on this field right now that over the next four or five years are going to be churned out into the CFL and the odd guy into the NFL."

After the draft, Gray said he's already looking forward to getting started.

"It's just a lot of, like, hypothetical things, talking about what you had done in your film, in the past. It's nice to actually get moving forward and actually get better."