Stamps test track star's hands

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Several have tried before and most have failed.

The idea is to take the sprinter, hand him the football and see if he can outrun an entire defence.

Forrest Gump managed to do it in the movies. Ben Johnson failed in reality.

Toby Atawo hopes to be an exception to the rule.

He's trying out for the Calgary Stampeders without having played a down of college football after a four-year track career at California Berkeley.

"If I couldn't catch, I might be worried," said the Toronto native. "It's late (in my career) but I'm still young. I get better every day, every practice. I have a lot more dimensions to me than just the running."

Yet he can run like the wind. His best time in the 100m dash is 10.49 seconds -- not world-record pace but speedy for football.

He can clock about 21.2 in the 200, which is quick endzone to endzone, with sideline to sideline stops in between.

The 24-year-old would have played in college had his track coach let him. A year and half ago, he began working out with the football team and getting assistance from football coach Jeff Tedford and his staff.

"On scholarship down there, they have a say in what you can and can't do," Atawo said. "They wouldn't give me the green light until the last couple of years."

However, the team did let him participate in professional scouting tests before graduation.

"I was a Cal athlete so they let me in," he said. "I did pretty well with the lifting and jumping. They knew I was an athlete and capable of playing."

There is an opportunity with the Stamps for a return specialist because Terrence Wilkins isn't returning this season and several others will try out for the job.

As a Canadian, Atawo has an advantage. He is working out with the receivers but is willing to do whatever it takes to touch the football.

He also hopes to hold onto it and absorb the first hits he's taken since high school.

"I'm just following a passion, following the dream," he said. "This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to pursue football right when I left Canada.

"I don't express it very well but this is a dream come true right now."


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