Stamps seeking shoe-in

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:32 PM ET

John Hufnagel will enter next month's CFL draft hoping to fill the biggest hole created by off-season defections.

Although it would be a rarity, the Calgary Stampeders GM-head coach foresees a kicker going with one of the top picks, and he owns the fifth selection.

"There are a few teams that need kickers, so it depends on how much poker you want to play if you really need a kicker," Hufnagel said. "I could see the possibility of a kicker going in the first round."

The Stamps have had a busy off-season, making changes on the coaching staff, signing their own free agents, conducting camps for prospects and also losing a player to the NFL (Dimitri Tsoumpas, Miami Dolphins).

The toughest obstacle to overcome might be the defection of kicker Sandro DeAngelis to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats through free agency.

Guelph kicker Rob Maver is the sixth-ranked prospect from the CFL's scouting bureau, and he could be a target for the Stamps.

The last time a kicker was taken in the first round was in 2007 when the Edmonton Eskimos took Warren Kean -- a move that didn't work out at all.

The Stamps could go with an import at the position, but Hufnagel would prefer not to do that.

"We have worked out a lot of American kickers, but I'm trying very hard to fill that spot with a Canadian," he said.

"I'm comfortable with what we have and I'm hoping the draft could help us. There are some excellent prospects in the draft. We pick fifth as of today. I don't know who we will get in that slot, but I know it will be a good player who will be able to help us."

Hufnagel made a move Thursday to help shore up the offensive line due to the loss of starting right guard Tsoumpas.

The Stamps announced the signings of import lineman Sam Allen and Edwin Harrison. Allen, a Grand Valley State product, plays tackle. At 6-foot-5 and 300-lb., he reminds Hufnagel of starting left tackle Ben Archibald.

Harrison, who played at the University of Colorado, is more suited for right guard. Hufnagel hinted the Stamps could adjust their roster and play with two imports on the line if needed.

"That could be an option with what has transpired," Hufnagel said. "Training camp will decide that. That's part of the equation we've put on the board."

Due to the release of Shannon James and retirement of Tim Johnson, the Stamps have holes at the linebacking positions, but Hufnagel hopes to replace those players with import free agents worked out at a camp in Florida.

He predicts there will be about 20 new faces competing for jobs out of that camp, and the majority of those are on the defensive side.

There will be plenty of new faces with the Stamps this season.

The likes of veteran slotback Jeremaine Copeland, player personnel director Jim Barker, offensive co-ordinator George Cortez and special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson are gone.

"It's a challenge for this football team," Hufnagel said. "Not only is there player movement, but coaching movement.

"During training camp, it's going to be a learning experience on both sides, both at coaching and new players.

"With pro football, if you aren't a team that can adapt and can accept and overcome change, then you aren't a very good team.

"I don't think you would describe us that way."


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