Green 'n' gold!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Danny Maciocia is hoping to strike gold in Quebec this afternoon.

The Edmonton Eskimo head coach will be mining for talent at a rather intriguing one-day evaluation camp on the University of Laval campus.

It's a three-hour session for players who have lost their CFL draft eligibility status or haven't been given an invitation to this weekend's league-operated evaluation camp in southern Ontario for blue-chip draft prospects.

In other words, Maciocia will be trying to uncover a diamond in the rough.

"You are not going to find someone (who will be a real good CFL player at the Laval camp) every single year," said Maciocia.

"Having said that, even if you find one guy every three or four years, it is worth the trip."

And that is the catch.

The Eskimos discovered stud fullback Mathieu Bertrand at this exact camp a couple of years ago.

The Montreal Alouettes originally drafted Bertrand in 2003 after he starred as a CIS quarterback.

But the Als quickly released the homegrown talent, prompting him to show up at the second-tier camp looking for another chance.

"I remember going down there and he was bench-pressing 225 pounds and I think he bench-pressed it 18 or 19 times, as many as the offensive linemen," recalled Maciocia.

"Then I watched him run and I knew we had ourselves a special athlete and someone who could probably make the transition of playing another position and be successful."

In the last two years, Bertrand has made the transition and has become a key cog in the Green and Gold's offensive machine.

An estimated 65 players from Eastern Canada and the northeast United States will be at today's camp with hopes of making a lasting impression on Maciocia and personnel from a handful of other CFL teams.

MAKING THE ROUNDS: Maciocia is in the early stages of a two-week scouting mission.

After today's camp and this weekend's CFL draft combine in Toronto, the Montreal native will return to Quebec to spend a week combing through university rosters.

"I will go to every single institution and sit down with every single coach and go through their list of players who are draft eligible this year and a year from now," said Maciocia.

That means he'll make stops at McGill, Concordia, Sherbrooke, Laval and the University of Montreal.

At the same time, Eskimo football operations manager Dan McKinnon will be visiting every university in Ontario before heading to schools in Western Canada. "This is something that's extremely important to me," added Maciocia. "Half of our roster is comprised of Canadian content. So you have to find the best available (Canadian players) out there."

EXTRA POINTS: As for American talent, Eskimo general manger Paul Jones is in the midst of a long list of free-agent tryout camps south of the border.

In total, the Green and Gold will conduct seven more tryout sessions in six states - Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Ohio and Illinois - in the next two months.

The ad also suggests players should bring five items to the tryout: grass cleats, tennis shoes, artificial turf shoes, sweat pants or shorts and a T-shirt.


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