EDMONTON - Calvin McCarty’s non-import status has been seen as both a blessing and a curse.
As a non-import, due to his days in British Columbia, McCarty is practically guaranteed a spot on the Edmonton Eskimos roster.
But because of his Canadian status, the running back is often overlooked when it comes to getting the start at what is predominately an import position.
“Calvin is competing very well, we haven’t dismissed the fact that Calvin can possibly be the starter,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “He’s right there in the conversation every time we meet as a staff at night, that he’s performing well.
“If you take nationality out of the picture he may be one of the top three guys.”
Heading into his fifth year with the club, McCarty has gone above and beyond his duties with the Eskimos.
McCarty has proven he can be a reliable ball carrier for the club when it’s required. Last season he averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per reception with five touchdowns.
The previous two seasons he averaged more than five yards per carry.
“In the off-season, I prepared like I was going to be the guy,” McCarty said. “I’m coming in and whether I’m the backup or playing on special teams, you always have to be prepared, because you’re always just one play away from getting in.
“I have my own personal goals heading into the season, but as long as we’re winning games, that’s all that matters.”
This season, McCarty is expected to play behind either Arkee Whitlock or Daniel Porter. Both of the imports are expected to stick with the team, although it’s uncertain if the Eskimos will be able to dress both on game day.
“We have a lot of talent in the backfield,” McCarty said. “But we’ve also had a lot of different offensive co-ordinators come through here, so you have to start over and impress again.
“You can’t let that frustrate you, you just have to use it as motivation and wait until you’re number’s called.”
The question has been raised, however, whether McCarty’s number would be called more often if he wasn’t a non-import and didn’t have special teams responsibilities because of it.
“I think a lot of people come in with that biased impression,” Reed said. “Fortunately for this staff, we’re looking at the talent. Calvin is a very good running back. He’s good out of the backfield, he runs with vision, he cuts very well, he has all the tools that a good running back needs. So we should keep him in the race.”