Ottawa's Worman on the hunt for the next Ricky Ray

Seen here as an offensive co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Rick Worman has held several...

Seen here as an offensive co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Rick Worman has held several jobs in the league, including with the Eskimos, before going to work as a scout for the upcoming Ottawa franchise. (QMI Agency file)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 AM ET

EDMONTON - Finding the next Ricky Ray isn't going to be easy.

But if anyone can do it, it's probably the guy who found the actual Ricky Ray in the first place.

Former Edmonton Eskimos offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman was back at Commonwealth Stadium last Friday to watch a game as scout for Ottawa's yet-to-be-named expansion franchise.

Set to enter — or is that re-enter? — the CFL in the 2014 season, Ottawa will be allowed to participate in next year's Canadian college draft, where they will pick ninth overall, then last in each round.

However, their participation will be limited to a pool of 17 red-shirts who are likely returning to school for a final season.

Then, prior to entering the CFL, Ottawa will be able to cherry pick certain players from other teams in an expansion draft.

"We don't know which teams are going to protect what players," said Worman, a former CFL quarterback, coach and scout. "So I have to list all kinds of players available for us."

Worman has been working for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group since mid-March, scouting the CFL as well as college football in the U.S., as Ottawa takes a stab at its third franchise following the Rough Riders and Renegades.

"I think that you have to have a solid ownership group, which I believe we have in Ottawa, for sure," he said. "Jeff Hunt is going to be the president of the organization and they are sort of reaching out in faith because we don't even have the stadium issue taken care of 100% yet.

"And yet they wanted to be prepared because they believe so strongly in this. Getting some quality coaches in there and then getting some quality players is the key to being successful."

Which is where Worman comes in, taking the opportunity to build a franchise from the ground up for the first time since being part of an expansion Arena Football League team in Fresno, Calif., where he first laid eyes on a fresh-faced Ray.

"It's really a neat challenge," said Worman, who played for Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton and Saskatchewan before becoming a coach. "I have been a part of this league as a player, as a coach, as a scout for 16 years and it's totally different when you're laying one brick here, one brick there.

"We haven't even started the cement mixer yet."

Let alone had a chance to spy a player with the potential to have a Ray-like career in the CFL.

"We'll see about that," Worman shrugged. "He's a pretty special guy. I'm grateful that he developed and was able to blossom here with the Eskimos."

Not that Worman hasn't been trying to spot the next diamond in the rough, of course.

"It's a fun project, it's overwhelming," he said. "I've spent 17 days on the road from July 25 to Aug. 10, so it's been gruelling but exciting in the same breath."

Which pretty much sums up the entire new franchise's endeavour, so far. One that is focused on not just starting up, but sticking.

"I think the city is ready to embrace football and it's got to be managed and run correctly to be successful," Worman said. "I believe the fact that they have a solid ownership group, that you at least have the opportunity at this stage."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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