Running a reverse

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Growing up black in America, Scott Cloman knows about racism.

That's why Cloman could relate to a young quarterback by the name of Marcus Jacoby during his final year at Southern University.

With Southern's starting pivot on academic probation, Jacoby was brought in as the replacement and became the only white quarterback in the school's history.

The decision caused a stir on the primarily all-black Southern campus, an even bigger furor in the Jaguars' locker room and dissension in the huddle.

"It was like a reversal of the 1960s and 70s," offered Cloman, who's looking to nail down a spot on the Edmonton Eskimos roster as the squad's fourth or fifth receiver.

"It was a white guy at a black college and they really hounded him.

"Anything he did wrong, the fans were booing him.

"It was tough being the only white guy on the team. He was by himself and I kind of took him under my wing. He was a good player and definitely earned my respect."

Growing up in Compton, California, Cloman's contact with the caucasian world was minimal before heading for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to attend Southern.

However, his friendship with Jacoby and close relationship with the pivot's family allowed Cloman a view of white society he had never before experienced.

"He was actually the first white guy I got close to," related Cloman, who also played baseball during his freshman and sophomore years at Southern. "I stayed with him during the summers and we trained together.

"It definitely opened my eyes up to a different world and it was a positive experience. His mom was so nice to me."

After leaving Southern, Cloman auditioned for the Kansas City Chiefs and lined up with the now-defunct Arena Football League's Iowa franchise.

The six-foot-three, 215-pound receiver also had a stint with San Francisco, suited up in the XFL and was a teammate of Winnipeg Blue Bombers' pivot Tee Martin in NFL Europe.

Cloman nearly cracked the Washington Redskins lineup in 2003. A solid special teams player with speed to burn despite his spindle-like legs, most pundits figured Cloman was a lock to be the Redskins' fourth or fifth receiver last season.

Instead of sticking in Washington the 28-year-old was cut loose and signed with the Esks last September. Cloman made his CFL debut and only appearance during Week 15 in Hamilton.

"This is a different game," Cloman said of the CFL. "It's definitely different with DBs hitting you 20 yards down the field and tugging on you.

"You have to be in better shape because it's more physical, but it's also fun."

Although Cloman is behind Jason Tucker, Ed Hervey and Derrell Mitchell on the depth chart, he has a legitimate shot a being a starter this season.

With veteran Terry Vaughn now in Montreal and non-import Brock Ralph inking a free agent deal south of the border, there's at least two spots up for grabs.

"We're looking for size and speed and all our receivers have that this year," explained Esks receiver coach Dan McKinnon. "With that kind of composition, we have a chance of beating the traditional defensive backs we face.

"That's our business model this year. There's a lot more that's acceptable as far as jamming and (DBs) getting their hands on you."

Esks head coach Danny Maciocia has kept the cuts to a minimum through the first eight days of training camp. That said, Friday's pre-season game versus Winnipeg is a make or break proposition for a number of Green and Gold hopefuls.

Hervey is nursing a knee strain and doubtful for the game, while Mitchell is back in Texas to attend his sister's funeral. Following countless individual and team drills in camp, Friday is Cloman's turn to shine.

"There are no birthrights, all the jobs are open," McKinnon said. "At the same time the fourth and fifth spots are open. We need a game to see what our players can do."


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