Longevity key to Schiavone

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:46 AM ET

EDMONTON - Derek Schiavone has to look up to see Sean Fleming’s name on the Edmonton Eskimos Wall of Honour at Commonwealth Stadium.

Which is fitting, since the young kicker has been looking up to Fleming as someone to emulate throughout his career.

“I was more raised in the NFL game, but I still knew names like Fleming, (Noel) Prefontaine, (Paul) McCallum as guys I looked up to because I wanted to play in the CFL,” said Schiavone, who did exactly that, spending the past four years in Edmonton since graduating from Western Ontario.

His first three pro years he spent under the tutelage of Prefontaine, missing playing with Fleming by the narrowest of margins.

Fleming retired in 2007 and Schiavone signed as a free agent with the team in May 2008.

“I know him a little bit, he’s been around my four years here,” Schiavone said. “I never had a chance to play while he was still in the league, but he doesn’t shy away from being around and every time I see him he always gives us positive reinforcement.”

Before Schiavone knew Fleming, he knew of him.

“Obviously I knew the name. He’s one of the greatest kickers to play, especially being Canadian,” Schiavone said. “So he’s someone I look up to and hopefully I can have a career like him.”

Fleming’s lasted from 1992-2007, encompassing the Eskimos three most recent Grey Cup championships.

“It’s a great feeling to know that if you accomplish something great that you are going to get rewarded for it,” Schiavone said. “Just looking at guys in this community who are still here, who are role models, which is something I sort of want to be at the end of my career.

“It’s just someone to look up to so if you ever had something to ask, he would be right there to answer it for you.”

But Schiavone’s career path has been one focused primarily on patience, so far.

While he has had his share of opportunities — and made the most of them — Schiavone’s role has mainly centered around backing up an older, more experienced kicker on the team.

But Schiavone takes comfort in the fact that a kicker’s career far outlasts other positions and that his time will come.

“Definitely (Fleming) has had a long career. Look at McCallum still going. He’s one of the best in the league,” Schiavone said. “The thing with kicking, it’s more of a technical thing, right? As long as you can keep that technique, the strength’s not always that important.”

FINE BY ME(SSAM): Eskimos RB Jerome Messam was fined an undisclosed amount by the league for his role in last Friday’s fourth-quarter altercation with some of his ex-teammates on the B.C. Lions.

Messam was ejected from the game for hitting Tad Kornegay in the helmet during a scrum, while Kornegay and fellow Lions Solomon Elimimian, Korey Banks and Dante Marsh were also fined, along with DL Khalif Mitchell, for leading with his helmet on a hit on Messam.

IN AND OUT: DT Josh Leonard has been added to the practice squad. The six-foot-two, 290-pound University of Hawaii product practised with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans.

“Josh is a strong and quick interior player. He bench pressed 225 pounds 41 times on his pro day evaluation,” said Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman. “Josh can bull rush guys, split the double team and for a big man, can redirect and pursue very well. Once he learns the nuances of the CFL game, Josh will give our staff an interesting interior option.”


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