Coker savours big chance

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:00 AM ET

CALGARY - If circumstances were different, LaMarcus Coker would have been mowing a lawn bright and early Monday morning in Nashville.

Luckily for him, he was instead chewing up the grass in Moncton, N.B., as part of Touchdown Atlantic.

It was nearly a four-month wait to get into the Calgary Stampeders lineup, but the 25-year-old delivered on his first opportunity, blasting through the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for a 75-yard touchdown scamper.

Before coming to Stamps training camp in June, Coker was still working two part-time jobs — selling shoes and as a factory distributor — plus running a yard maintenance company with a friend.

So even waiting for a turn that might never come, Coker wasn’t getting discouraged with the Stamps.

“Being here in Calgary is way better than what I was doing in Nashville,” Coker said.

“You can only imagine how different my (old jobs) are from what I’m doing now.”

There is a long list of import running backs who came to Calgary thinking they would get a huge break and got a real chance to perform.

They can all thank Joffrey Reynolds for that. The future Hall-of-Fame running back was so consistent for so long that no one could ever displace him from practice time alone.

But now Canadian Jon Cornish has taken over as the starter, and the Stamps dressed Coker as a backup Sunday in a 55-36 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

With Cornish in the fold, it’s been tough for the backup import to even get on the roster unless he was the designated kick returner.

The list of players who tried taking over for Reynolds is a long one.

Names such as Rafael Little (2010), Derek Watson (2009-10), Demetris Summers (2008-09), Ken Simonton (2007), Wes Cates (2006) and Tony Stallings (2005) could never take Reynolds’ starting job away.

Coker showed up in training camp this year and became well aware of Reynolds’ resume and list of failed understudies.

“I definitely think this is a special opportunity for me,” Coker said. “Things happen for a reason. Coming in looking at this, I understand how the other guys felt.

“It can be tough to be patient. It can be a little frustrating. I’m thankful for the opportunity. I just have to make the best of it.”

If Coker stopped now, he would finish with a 75.0-yard rushing average. It would be the best ever, but he’s not the only one who put up a great number on just one time with the ball.

In 1972, Toronto’s Zenon Andrushyshyn had one carry for 66 yards, although he didn’t score a TD, while Calgary’s Leo Lewis II scored a 62-yard TD in 1980.

Coker hopes to get more than one chance Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but he plans on keeping a high average regardless.

“Realistically, if I keep getting a chance to play, my goal would be about a 20- to 25-yard average,” Coker said.

“I think that can happen. We only have six games left.”


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