Lions rookie getting his kicks

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- White Spot is extremely popular on the West Coast, and now there is one big fan of Whyte's spot.

When Paul McCallum was injured two weeks ago against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the B.C. Lions were forced to turn to rookie kicker Sean Whyte as a replacement.

The 23-year-old has spent the past two seasons with the Lions on the practice roster, and he is pumped to make his home debut tonight against the Calgary Stampeders (8:30 p.m., TSN).

"I can't wait," the Surrey, B.C., native said yesterday. "There is no wind or rain I have to worry about.

"It's just my friends in the stands who are going to boo me. They will heckle me. I know that because that's what my friends do."

Whyte has been on the Lions' radar since playing minor football with head coach Wally Buono's son Michael many years ago.

But with McCallum doing a steady veteran job, there was no reason to replace him with a youngster.

The Lions didn't want to lose Whyte this season, however, and had him on the nine-game injured list when McCallum suffered a knee injury during the loss to the Ticats.

Whyte debuted a week ago in Edmonton and kicked a 24-yard field goal, but the Lions botched a snap on another attempt. The 5-foot-9, 175-lb. Whyte did a decent job punting -- which isn't his specialty -- and he showed he was ready for the CFL job.

"It's been a long wait, and it took a lot in terms of the mental aspect of things," Whyte said.

"At times, you almost want to quit because you question whether you will ever play the game. It wasn't much fun anymore.

"Once you get a chance to go on the field, it rejuvenates you. This is a job, but I'm just having fun with it. If this is my job, I hope to have it for a long period of time."

Whyte is one of only two non-import kickers who will do all three kicking duties (Edmonton's Noel Prefontaine is the other) but he feels he has learned from one of the best.

McCallum was in a similar situation during a stint with the Lions early in his career. When Lui Passaglia was injured in 1994, McCallum was his temporary replacement.

Passaglia returned to action and McCallum had to leave Vancouver for a 12-year run in Saskatchewan before returning to the coast.


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