Elementary relationship

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

Dante Luciani and Jonathan Hood have defied very long odds.

Elementary classmates in Oakville, Ont., they were drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos this spring and are now in training camp together at Clarke Park.

When you think about it, it's amazing these 22-year-old non-imports have all of this in common.

"I saw Jonathan get picked first (in this year's draft) and I was really happy for him," said Luciani.

"And I was hoping to go to Edmonton and when it happened the first thing I thought of was us going out there (to Edmonton) together."

A defensive back, Hood was taken in the fourth round (26th overall) while Luciani- a receiver - was selected in the fifth round (34th overall) by the Green and Gold.

Knowing each other for 15 years in southern Ontario, the pair actually joked as youngsters about being drafted together.

"He is the reason why I play football," said Hood on his longtime friend.

"I watched him play when we were eight years old. I saw how good he was. I wanted to play but I never got a chance to play until I went to high school.

"And we always wanted to be on the same team.

"It is (a) blessing that we are together because it is good to have a support group."

Added Luciani: "The way it worked out it is kind of strange (that we are in camp together). (But) it is wonderful."

They played basketball and football against each other in high school and then matched up across the line of scrimmage in the CIS East-West Bowl.

Luciani got the best Hood in that game.

But in their first CFL camp, Luciani has been stuck on the sidelines for nearly every practice with a hamstring injury.

Finally, the Wilfred Laurier product will get a chance today to participate against the veterans in Day 4 of practices.

On the opposite side of the field, Hood enjoyed a good rookie camp but has struggled in main camp.

"I was doing pretty well at rookie camp and then these guys (the vets) came in and they brought me back down to earth," said Hood, a St. Francis Xavier product.

"But I will get better."

In one forgettable play for Hood yesterday, six-year CFL veteran receiver Brock Ralph blew right by the rookie.

Each with one year of CIS eligibility remaining, they are both buried on the depth chart.

Luciani is playing behind Ralph, Andrew Nowacki and Kevin Challenger. Hood is stuck behind Jonte Buhl, J.R. LaRose and Jordan Younger.

Making the special teams units will be their ticket to keeping their lives strung together in the CFL this spring.


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