Wide-eyed rookie lines up beside boyhood idols

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

If you would have told Reggie Williams seven years ago he would be lining up next to Jeremaine Copeland and Ken-Yon Rambo, he would never have believed you.

Actually, the Calgary Stampeders rookie receiver can hardly believe it now.

Williams will make his CFL regular-season debut tomorrow when the Stamps play the B.C. Lions in Vancouver (8:30 p.m., TSN), and he is literally bouncing around with nervousness.

"I'm anxious more than nervous," said the 25-year-old yesterday in the midst of packing his equipment for his first road trip.

"(Offensive co-ordinator George) Cortez has stayed with me after practice to help me learn the ins and outs of the playbook.

"The whole receiving corps has helped me out a lot, so I'm pumped to go try and get a win."

Williams was a huge football fan and showed some potential growing up and playing high school football in Lake Charles, La.

The 6-ft.-5, 210-pounder was even recruited to play for LSU.

But after working out with the Tigers during spring ball, Williams decided to stay home and work so he could help him mom through some tough times.

He never made it to college but caught the eyes of Stamps coaches at a mini-camp in Florida this March.

He has raw skills but was seen as a project because he didn't have the grooming of college.

Now, after nearly three months of pro practices, Williams is just a few lockers away from two of his favourite players growing up.

He watched Rambo play at Ohio State and was a big fan of Copeland's when the veteran CFLer was at Tennessee.

"During the bye week, I went back home, turned on classic sports and there was Copeland playing with Tennessee and Peyton Manning," Williams said in amazement.

"I used to look up to Copeland. I wanted to go to Tennessee because of him. So it's surreal I'm here. They are good guys, and I'm just happy to be part of the team."

If Williams can make an impact with the Stamps, his story will go from being heartwarming to simply remarkable.

But Williams won't even entertain the notion he could someday replace the receivers he idolized a few years ago.

"I'm not going that far," Williams said. "I'm just trying to help them out so we can get the W.

"I'm just happy coach Cortez and head coach Huf (John Hufnagel) have seen something in me to give me this chance.

"They put me in situations to make plays in practice, and now, they are giving me a chance to get out there and make more plays."


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