Runner up to bat

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Calvin McCarty is looking for a new claim to fame.

A rookie non-import running back trying out for the Edmonton Eskimos, the 22-year-old is actually known for his baseball skills.

McCarty played shortstop and centre field for Team Canada at the 2001 Big League World Series.

"It was nice to get a chance to represent Canada - we were signing autographs," he said of the tournament in South Carolina.

"It was my first real experience in the spotlight.

"We lost to Venezuela to go to the championship (game). (It was) 2-1 and I had the only RBI."

The Big League World Series is for players aged 16-18 years old. Based in Langley, B.C., the club finished third in the tournament.

But professional baseball was never in the cards because McCarty craves something more physical.

Banging bodies is his game - and he seems to have a good chance of cracking the Eskimos' roster as a rookie on special teams.

"He looks very good," said special teams coach Scott Squires after running McCarty through drills yesterday.

"He is a good player and schematically with some of the things that we are trying to get accomplished I know he did in college.

"So, they fit well with what we are doing.

"And he fits well.

"He has shown great signs of understanding, quickness and speed.

"I am fired up for him. He is a good player - glad he is here."

At 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, McCarty is well put together and looks just fine running the ball in his rare opportunities in camp.

But Canadian-bred tailbacks are rare in the CFL. Coupled with being behind two veteran running backs in Ron McClendon and Josh Ranek, McCarty will have to be a special teams role player for now.

"(I had) a couple blocked punts last year," said McCarty, remembering his time at Western Washington.

A fourth round selection in this year's CFL draft, the Burnaby native might have been a higher pick if he hadn't broken a foot last season in school.

Through the opening seven games he had 492 yards on the ground and was leading the team in pass receptions.

But the foot injury aside, his football stock dropped for sure when he decided to leave Boise State - one of the top football programs in the U.S. - after two seasons, transferring to Western Washington.

"I actually wanted to play in my college career," stated McCarty.

Frustrated with putting the work in on the practice field and the classroom but not seeing plenty of offensive reps, he left the Broncos.

"If I had stayed (at Boise State), who knows what would have happened," commented McCarty.

"I would have definitely been in the spotlight (with that program at Boise State)."

Hindsight being 20-20, McCarty is looking forward with the hope of making a name in Edmonton.

FINISH LINES: There are certainly athletic genes in McCarty's family. His father played basketball at Oklahoma's Bacone College and Southeastern Oklahoma State. Not to be outdone, his mother played softball at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.


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