Latest camp addition comes with checkered past

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

Trouble seems to have followed Derek Watson throughout his football career, but Calgary Stampeders head coach/GM John Hufnagel figures he deserved a "second chance."

Watson, a well-travelled running back who accepted a late invite to training camp and signed with the Red & White yesterday, sees it as something more than that.

"This is the last chance," Watson said. "This is pretty much my last leg right here. I've learned a lot from my experiences. I've learned from my mistakes, and today, I'm a better person.

"Some people may say, 'Why bother with that guy?' but I've learned a lot. I've learned more by making mistakes than I have by people actually teaching me growing up. This is my last chance, my last go-round, and I intend on making the best of it."

Watson, 28, received a call from the Stampeders after non-import running back Jon Cornish was injured in Wednesday's exhibition contest against the B.C. Lions and joined the team for yesterday's afternoon practice session.

McMahon Stadium is the latest stop on what's been a bumpy road for the 6-foot, 223-lb. ball-carrier.

His three-year stint at the University of South Carolina was tarnished by four incidents that generated negative press, including an allegation he hit a female companion and a 2002 arrest for possession of marijuana that marked the end of his run with the Gamecocks.

In 2007, not long after being waived by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary and grand larceny after he allegedly broke into a home in Greenville, S.C.

Hufnagel is aware of his checkered past but pointed out he's not the first guy to be given a chance to redeem himself on the football field.

"That happened a long time ago," Hufnagel said. "There are some people on this team that have had second chances, and he's going to be another one."

Watson, who hasn't taken a snap in about three years, characterized his tryout with the Stamps as an "early Father's Day present."

He was scheduled to spend the weekend with his daughter Kadaijah and son Christian. Instead, he's hundreds of kilometres away trying to make them proud.

"I watch my kids watch TV and they watch these superstars, watch LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant), and I look at myself and I say, 'I could've been that guy.' I could've been their hero, which I am, but I'm not their superstar," Watson said. "I'm looking forward to being a role model to the kids that had hard times growing up -- just showing them you can change your life, you don't have to stay stuck in your ways."


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