Esks hope Taco can take it

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

Lawrence Wallace had one of those life-altering moments in the third grade.

For some reason - and he won't say why - he adopted the nickname Taco.

"Everybody is interested (in finding out why)," said Wallace, "but it is personal."

Interesting name aside, what really matters to Wallace right now is making a name with the Edmonton Eskimos.

In need of at least one game-breaking receiving threat, the club announced yesterday the signing of Wallace and Richard Smith, both ex-NFLers.

"I can pretty much do it all," said Wallace on whether he can play inside or outside receiver, "just give me a shot, throw me the ball and let me do what I do with it."

Head coach Danny Maciocia is understandably pleased with the versatility of both imports.

"They are two pretty good receivers and what we are going to do is sit down here in the next few weeks with our offensive staff and decide where we want to line them up," he remarked.

"But what makes them attractive is that they are able to do both (play inside and outside)."

With all-star Jason Tucker, the Esks are clearly set at one inside position. But Maciocia hasn't publicly declared the 2007 status of veteran import receivers Mookie Mitchell, Ed Hervey and Richard Alston.

Smith comes to Edmonton after spending time with the Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.

But more intriguing is the fact he qualified for the 2004 Olympic trials in triple jump but decided to attend Chiefs training camp.

While Wallace put up solid numbers at Kansas State - 39 receptions for 704 yards in 2002 - he has barely played in the last four years, dressing for less than 10 regular season NFL games between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

"They never really stuck with me and gave me a shot (in the NFL)," he lamented.

But that hasn't stopped the teasing and ribbing he receives about his nickname - which has essentially become his regular name.

"You name it, I heard it," he said of the Taco-related jokes.

"If you don't know me, it would bother me.

"But my friends, kid around: 'Hey, enchilada, what is up?'

"It doesn't bother me."

COACHING SHUFFLE? The rumour mill suggests longtime assistant coach Bill Macdermott will not be the Eskimo offensive line coach this season.

Maciocia will not publicly discuss any assistant coaching possibilities, but a rumour indicates Macdermott could become a video coach for the club.

Carl Brennan - who coached the Edmonton running backs last year - could easily become the Esks O-line coach after a successful stint in Saskatchewan in 2005.

SUPER BOWL BOUND? Maciocia is hoping to attend the Super Bowl next Sunday in Miami, but still hasn't received confirmation regarding tickets.

Regardless, he'll be in Miami for the week, talking to prospective coaches and scouting players.

"I'll be talking to some agents," he said.

"There is a hotbed of football talent there in Miami."

FINISH LINES: If Maciocia attends the Super Bowl, he'll be able to watch Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije, who, ironically, is the Edmonton Eskimos property in the CFL. The club selected his rights in the Ottawa Renegades dispersal draft last year ... The Sun has learned the CFL college draft will be May 2.


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