Alive and kicking

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

In need of immediate help, the Renegades jumped at the chance to grab an established CFL difference-maker moments before yesterday's Canadian college draft.

For the fifth pick overall, they acquired from Montreal non-import kicker/punter Matt Kellett plus future considerations, which will likely turn out to be a name off the Alouettes neg list. Jesse Palmer's, maybe?

"The Bachelor?" chided GM/coach Joe Paopao when asked if he'd request Montreal give up the CFL rights to the Ottawa-born, reality-TV star who serves as a New York Giants backup quarterback.

"Right now, probably not. But I really haven't even thought about it yet. It's an interesting concept. Jesse is probably there (the NFL) the rest of his career, but you never know ..."

The Calgary Stampeders used the No. 1 pick in the draft to take Laval's Miguel Robede, a 6-foot-3, 288-lb. tackle who anchored the Vanier Cup-champion Rouge et Or's defence.

Ottawa took Cam Yeow, a 6-foot, 224-lb. linebacker from Akron, at No. 2. The Renegades got the fullback they needed in the third round by taking Les Mullings of Saint Mary's.

Paopao and his assistants never knew they were about to have an opportunity to land a veteran ball-booter like Kellett as they did their final draft prep work, either. When Montreal called "minutes" before the proceedings began, Paopao said, "we felt, as a staff, it was the direction we needed to go."

"We always viewed him as one of the top kickers," he added of the six- year veteran.

The Renegades struggled with that part of the game last season. Punter Pat Fleming has a league-low 39.7 yard average, rookie kicker Sandro Sciortino was a CFL-worst 56.7% on field goal attempts before he was stricken by testicular cancer in mid-September.

The Renegades would prefer someone who can handle both jobs like Kellett, who connected on 75.5% of his three point attempts and had a 41-yard punting average.

Paopao called Sciortino after yesterday's trade and told him to get ready to compete for a job.

"He's a competitor," said Paopao, who reported that Sciortino continues to recover well from his illness. "We're going to make it a competitive camp."

Last season, Kellett encountered what was diagnosed as a viral infection that left him with double vision. He missed three games before returning to play with a patch over his right eye, but says he's all but completely symptom-free and that he's been hoofing without problems since March.

"(The trade) was obviously a little shock to the system," said Kellett, a two-time Vanier Cup winner (University of Saskatchewan) who was bumped from Edmonton (1999-2000) to B.C. (2001-02) before spending the last three seasons in Montreal.

"But you try not to take it personally, just move on and help your new team."

DRAFT EXTRA: In the sixth round, the Montreal Alouettes traded safety William Loftus to Edmonton for receiver Terry Vaughn, who has surpassed 1,000 yards in each of his 10 CFL seasons, and the 49th pick (Dickinson State receiver Adam Eckert).


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