'Dream come true' for new Stamp

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:19 PM ET

CALGARY - LaMarcus Coker called his audition with the Calgary Stampeders a “dream come true.”

As it turned out, the shifty running back didn’t get much chance to dream about it on the eve of rookie camp at McMahon Stadium.

“It’s been a while since I’ve practised at this level of competition, so I was anxious.

I didn’t even get much sleep last night,” Coker said.

“I stayed up studying my playbook till 2 a.m., and by the time I finally fell asleep, it felt like I was opening my eyes back up at 5:30 a.m. to come over here and get treatment and get my ankles taped up.”

If Coker was feeling sluggish, it didn’t show during Thursday’s opening sessions of Stampeders rookie camp at McMahon Stadium.

During offensive drills, the 24-year-old ball-carrier rattled off a couple of impressive runs, showcasing his speed on the big field.

If he shows enough to earn a full-time job with the

Red & White, he’s not expecting many more late nights.

“I’m just here to work, and the recreational stuff, just leave that to the side,” Coker said.

“I was talking to some of the guys, and they were talking about some of the things there is to do in the town, and I told them, ‘I probably won’t go out until I score a touchdown.’ Even if it’s in November, you know? I’ll be at home studying my playbook.”

The off-field stuff has been his undoing in the past.

Coker was a finalist for Tennessee’s Mr. Football award as a high-school standout, and scored a scholarship from the University of Tennessee Volunteers, but he was booted off the team as a sophomore after four failed drug tests for marijuana.

The shifty ball-carrier transferred to Div. I-AA Hampton University for his final two collegiate campaigns, winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rushing crown with 1,027 yards and six majors as a senior in 2009.

He attended a tryout with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals last season but didn’t make the grade and couldn’t find another place to play.

He was thrilled when the Stamps invited him to a workout in Chattanooga, Tenn. — and, eventually, to training camp.

Now, he wants to reward their gamble.

“I don’t really feel like it’s a second chance. I just feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Coker said. “Going to Hampton was my second chance. When

I left Tennessee, I could have never played football again, so going to Hampton was my second chance, but being in Calgary is a dream come true. It’s something that I’ve been working for for many, many years.

“Even after I had the trouble I had, I kept working, and here it is. I guess this is just the product of hard work.”


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