Twist of fate for Cates

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Under different circumstances, Wes Cates would be just another Canadian on a CFL roster, cutting his teeth on special-teams coverage in his first season.

As it turns out, the 27-year-old Calgary Stampeder is an ace cover man but doesn't have his Canuck citizenship only because of a decision his father made years ago.

In the mid-1970s, Wesley Cates was planning on following older brother Larry to the CFL.

Larry Cates was a Stampeder from 1974-76 but Wesley gave up football to start a family. Had Wesley Sr. come to Canada, Wes Jr. is sure his father would have made a long career out of football and that might have meant Wes would have been born north of the border, giving him important non-import status in the CFL.

"Dad might be the best athlete out of the entire family," Wes Cates said. "Things happen for a reason and it's worked out for me."

So Wes Cates grew up in Columbus, Ohio, playing football like his father and uncle did and excelling just the same.

He became a record-setting running back at California of Pennsylvania and set the record for career yardage in NCAA Div. II.

The Stamps brought Cates into camp this season as a longshot to make the club on offence. He proved to be a valuable blocker on offence and an amazing tackler on kick coverage.

Cates beat out Tony Stallings for the third-string spot because of his work ethic and further proved himself in games when David Allen went down with an injury in the season-opener.

Through seven games, Cates leads the Stamps in special-teams tackles and some of his hits have been of the highlight-reel variety.

"I tried my best not to go home," Cates said.

"Coming in, I wasn't one of the guys expected to make the team. I'm trying to get better every week. They have some great Canadian players here who can do the job, so I have to go above and beyond the competition to solidify my spot."

Cates' uncle Larry still resides in the Ottawa area, where he has lived since being traded by the Stamps in 1977. Wes said Larry is excited every time he sees his nephew playing for his old team.

"I'm happy to be carrying on the Cates legacy," Cates said. "He's surprised I'm running down there and making all those special-teams tackles. That's not what I did growing up."


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