Cracking lineup no laughing matter

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

There are many jokes that begin with 'Young Johnny,' and there are two players making sure they don't become punchlines at Calgary Stampeders training camp.

John Kanaroski and Johnny Thomas have long roads to travel before they become full-fledged CFLers, but they have at least youthful exuberance on their side.

When it comes to experience, Kanaroski has a leg up. The Calgary product, who played quarterback at St. Francis high school, went through the training-camp experience in 2005 when he was playing for the junior Colts.

He knows how Thomas feels. At just 19, the Southwest Mississippi Community College product is by far the youngest at camp.

Despite their varied backgrounds, the two locker-mates are starting to become friends.

"It's a big step for him like it was for me," said Kanaroski, who spent the past couple seasons with the University of Regina.

"Not being the youngest guy now is kind of nice.

"We are going through the playbook together and getting to know each other as well. I'm getting to know all the rookies and that's a lot of fun. We're helping each other out."

Winning a job in the Stamps' receiving corps is a daunting task with the likes of Ken-Yon Rambo, Nik Lewis, Jeremaine Copeland and Brett Ralph occupying the spots.

Kanaroski is also working as a punt returner and has the added benefit of being a Canadian.

Thomas would be a unique story if he made the club. He won't turn 20 until after Labour Day. He is the youngest player on the team by a full year, but that doesn't mean he lacks confidence.

"Everybody is talking about it," Thomas said. "I have a lot of years to go. Maybe I can play 15 years. You never know."


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