Renegades begin building at CFL expansion draft

The Ottawa Renegades inaugural season has more or less begun. The CFL franchise selected 32 players, including league veterans Kelly Wiltshire and Seth Dittman, in the CFL's expansion draft, Thursday.

Wiltshire, a linebacker who played last season with the Montreal Aloutettes, has five CFL seasons under his belt, including a Grey Cup championship with the Toronto Argonauts in 1997.

Dittman, a six-foot-seven, 300-pound offensive lineman, spent the last four years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and helped the club win the 1999 Grey Cup. He returned to Steeltown this past season after playing in the short-lived XFL.

Ottawa selected 16 actual CFLers -- eight Americans and eight Canadians -- in the opening segment of the expansion draft. Of those players, 10 were from the defence, five came from offence and the other was kicker Dan Giancola of the Toronto Argonauts.

The Renegades also took six quarterbacks, but all were from other teams' negotiation lists and their names cannot be released.

Ottawa went into the draft with only one signed player, former Argos running back Sam Zanders.

The draft was originally slated for Feb. 1, but Renegades general manager Eric Tillman asked the league to move it up so that he and head coach Joe Paopao could have more time before they attend next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which attracts some of the biggest U.S. college football stars.

The other Canadians selected in the CFL expansion draft included linebacker Matt Robichaud (Hamilton), safeties Donald Ruiz (Winnipeg) and Shawn Gallant (Saskatchewan), defensive tackle Patrick Wayne (Calgary), offensive guard George Hudson (Edmonton) and running back Mike Mauer (B.C.).

The other Americans taken were: linebacker John Grace (Montreal), centre Earl Scott (Toronto), defensive lineman Joseph O'Reilly (Winnipeg), linebacker Troy Asbell (Saskatchewan), cornerback Ricky Bell (Calgary), defensive lineman Fred Perry (Edmonton) and receiver Jimmy Oliver (B.C.).