Esks' numbers game

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

Originally he asked to wear No. 2.

But that was taken by slotback Fred Stamps.

So Jermaine Jamison was assigned 81. Ed Hervey's 81.

The jersey the Edmonton Eskimos' current West Coast scout wore with such distinction for eight seasons on his way to becoming one of the most popular players in recent team history.

Forget about big shoes to fill, those are flippers.

"I see it as a good thing that they gave me a number that's respected around here," Jamison said.

"I plan to uphold that. It's kind of the same situation when I was in Philadelphia. They gave me No. 17 and that was Harold Carmichael's number. He had retired and was working for the team. So it's a similar situation here."

Jamison, 25, is among over 80 first-year players taking part in the Eskimos rookie camp, which got into full swing yesterday with a pair of practices.

The former Fresno State wide receiver stood out in the morning session, which is required in order to earn an invite to the Eskimos main camp.

"The first day was tough, just getting used the size of the field, the offence and defence," Jamison said. "But (yesterday) I had fun. And when you start having fun playing football is when you start developing as a player.

"I've never done the forward motion before and now that I've done it, I see it as a huge advantage. I like that. Apart from that, it's not that much different. A route is a route and the technique is the same. I think it should be all right."

A native of Carson, Calif., Jamison went to school in South Central Los Angeles where he earned a scholarship to play with the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Following his five-year college career, the six-foot-three, 214-pound receiver signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. He then went through the Philadelphia Eagles system, getting assigned to play with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe before coming to Edmonton.

Jamison is one of 10 wide receivers listed on the Eskimos rookie roster -- four of which are six-foot-three or taller.

If things don't work out with the Eskimos, perhaps the Edmonton Chill may be interested.

"There was one team repetition (yesterday) where we broke the huddle and there wasn't a guy under six-foot-three," said Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia. "I don't ever think I've ever beeen associated with a receiving corps with so many guys over six-three.

"But the other thing that they can do is run. Clearly they're going to create mismatches for the opposing defence and physically it's going to be hard for you to be hard to get your hands on them and re-route them.

"Now it's a question of their ability to pick up the offence, process information and the ability to get it done. That's what they're up against it in the next little while."

Today the rookies have two more opportunities to impress before the veterans check in tomorrow for medicals. Main camp gets underway Sunday.

The Eskimos' first exhibition game is in Calgary on June 13, with the regular-season opener taking place in Saskatchewan against the Roughriders on June 28. The home opener goes the following week against the Calgary Stampeders.

If the first day of rookie camp is any indication, there should be plenty of competition for roster spots in the upcoming weeks.

"I compete against myself," Jamison said. "We have a lot of talented receivers here from various backgrounds. I try to find my niche and compete against myself. I don't worry about the numbers game and try to be better then the next man, try to stand out more than him. I just have to worry about me."


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