By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Mitchell Gale is someone who sees a glass as half full instead of half empty.
The former Alva and Abilene Christian University quarterback has signed a two-year contract as a free agent with the Toronto Argonauts, the defending Grey Cup champions of the Canadian Football League.
That lessens the disappointment of not being taken in the National Football League draft last month.
“I’m super excited about the opportunity,’’ Gale said. “It’s a chance to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to get to experience a whole new country.’’
Gale went to an Argonauts mini camp in Bradenton, Fla., at the end of April.
“They wanted to see what I could do,’’ he said. “I felt I gave them an accurate portrait of my ability and what I have to offer as a quarterback.’’
Gale also had gone to a St. Louis Rams rookie mini-camp a couple of weeks ago.
“I had a blast,’’ he said. “It was a great insight to experience how the pros handle their business. I’m glad I got to experience that.’’
Gale had been working out in Plano, Texas, since graduating from Abilene Christian. It was stressful waiting for the phone calls. He has been back in Alva the past week.
“It’s been a circus trying to figure out where I’m going to be going,’’ Gale said. “I was realistic. I knew I wasn’t going to be drafted. I’m just thankful for the opportunity that I got. There’s no more limbo.’’
Gale will be competing to be the backup for 11-year CFL veteran Ricky Ray. He is flying to training camp in Toronto on Tuesday.
“He’s one of the best ones up there,’’ he said. “I’m just expecting to learn as much as possible from him. He’s been through the ups and downs of the roller coaster pro football is.’’
The CFL season begins next month. Training camps are shorter than the NFL.
“I’m not going to speculate on my chances to make the team,’’ he said. “I just want to go up there and improve on a day-to-day basis. They are a championship organization. They will do what’s best for the organization, whatever it may be. I will handle my part and do my job.’’
The mini-camp gave him some insight on the Canadian game, which has a wider field, has 12 men to a side and has three downs instead of four.
“Football is football,’’ Gale said, “but there are some big differences. God has blessed me with some good opportunities, it’s up to me to make the most of it.’’
Gale is not going to Canada with a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t feel he has something to prove. He is motivated by competition.
“I definitely want to show that I have some talent and that I can play,’’ Gale said. “Once you get out there and start throwing the ball around and taking live reps, something in you comes alive ... you get in the rhythm and the flow of that. I get back in my confort zone. That’s why I love the process of practice.
“I have the mindset that I control what I can control. If I do my part, I’ll be at peace, whatever decision is made.’’
His goal had always been to play in the NFL.
“This (pros) was always something that I dreamed about,’’ Gale said. “You want to play at the top of your craft and that’s what you reach for. At the same time, I know God has a plan for me. I’m blessed with the opportunity to do something that I loved with a championship team.’’
His biggest asset, Gale said, is his efficiency. He left ACU as the both the school and Lone Star Conference career leader in passing yards (12,109), total offense (12,109), pass completions (931) and attempts (1,483).
Gale completed 228 of 380 passes for 2,982 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior.
“I have the resume of four years of snaps at ACU,’’ Gale said. “I have a lot of things that I can draw on in-game situations that should be beneficial to me in the future. The No. 1 thing in football is to be efficient and productive. I’m excited that I got to experience that the last four years.’’
Gale said ACU “was a perfect fit’’ for him, both academically and athletically. He made friends with faculty members and in the community that he will draw on the rest of his life.
“I have a big chunk of my life invested there,’’ he said. “It’s something that has shaped the course of my life and helped me become the man I am.’’
His father, Steve, his coach at Alva, laid the foundation for him and his twin brother, Tyson, who was a linebacker at Marshall and is a graduate assistant there.
“I can’t put into words what my father has meant to me,’’ Gale said. “I got to experience the coach-player relationship that I can always draw on.’’
He said his dad taught him how to act like a professional.
“He taught us what we’re suppose to do,’’ Gale said. “Whether it’s high school or in the pros, you do what’s right and do things in a certain way. It’s definitely a business now and I can act accordingly from what I learned from him.’’