Finally Summers time?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

To say there was a time Demetris Summers had a bright future would be an understatement.

Coming out of high school, he was rated by ESPN as a better running back than eventual Heisman Trophy winner and rising NFL standout Reggie Bush.

Summers finished his high-school career with the most rushing yards in South Carolina history.

He was the highly touted recruit many hoped would return glory at the University of South Carolina, was a conference freshman all-star and in his second season and led the team with nearly 500 yards rushing.

The world was his oyster. The gravy train was right on schedule.

And then ...

"I thought I had a bigger advantage because I was one of the top prospects in the nation, and I think that blew my head up," said Summers, now a Calgary Stampeders hopeful who was at McMahon yesterday for the opening of rookie camp.

That's not all that blew up.

A couple of failed drug tests -- positive for marijuana -- and he was sent packing by new Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier before his junior season of 2005-06 could begin.

Unable to go to another college, he spent the year hoping an NFL team would take a chance on him.

The Dallas Cowboys did, signing him as a free agent, but he was cut in the 2006 training camp.

The can't-miss kid from Lexington, S.C., was now cited by Sports Illustrated as one of the 10 biggest recruiting busts of all-time.

Suddenly, the game Summers hoped and believed would be a path to so much didn't want him any more.

After all, in football, out of sight means out of mind, especially when every year comes a whole new crop of hopefuls.

"I was worried about that. A lot of friends jive me about that, saying, 'You ain't nothing. You didn't do this. You're still home with us,' " said the 25-year-old rusher. "But that was kind of my motivation to just keep working out and wait on that call.

"And now it's come, I've got to make the best out of it."

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats came calling last season, but didn't offer the 6-ft.-1, 210-lb. running back a contract after working him out.

This winter, though, the Stamps invited him to their free-agent camp in Florida. A couple of days later, he was signed.

He's appreciative of the opportunity.

"Most people say it's my second chance, but I look at it as my last chance," Summers said.

"It's either make something out of it now or you'll be sitting back at home.

"This is a big opportunity for me and I'm going to try and make the best of it."

For starters, he insists he's cleaned up, knowing full well he has to do that to prove he deserves to be in the game.

"People make mistakes and one thing I've done is admit mistakes and I've dealt with it. I talk to little kids about it," he said. "It's something that happened in life, and you have to deal with it and move on.

"I've learned from my mistakes, haven't messed around with it since then, and I feel good."

Even still, earning a job with the Stampeders won't be easy. Sitting atop the depth chart at tail back is Joffrey Reynolds, who has rattled off three straight 1,000-yard seasons and been a multiple all-star.

Behind Reynolds is Ken Simonton, the understudy who played one game last year and scampered for 114 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

Summers will need to make a big impression to earn a place, but he has the skills and determination to give it a shot.

"I've got good hands and can run pretty good. I like catching the ball out of the backfield and going down the field, taking it down the field for a one-on-one with a linebacker," he said.

"I've been out of football for two years and I know this is what I love to do."\


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