Ilesic may join Gades

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

The Renedages might be dusting off some serious cobwebs to find an emergency punter.

One day after 37-year-old running back Sean Millington ended his retirement to join the Argonauts, Renegades coach-GM Joe Paopao confirmed that 45-year-old Hank Ilesic contacted the club about punting after learning the team could lose Pat Fleming to injury.

"It's probably one of those situations where we're not going to turn anybody down," Paopao said yesterday from Mistissini, Que., where he's participating in a football camp for Cree youth this week.

Paopao was unsure of a timetable on a workout for Ilesic, who began his CFL career with Edmonton in 1977, but said a Renegades scout would hold a workout session with the punter in Toronto this week.

SEVERAL OPTIONS

"He was on a list of names," said Paopao. "We're looking at a number of options, whether it's up north or across the border."

Fleming suffered a broken thumb during Ottawa's game last Friday in Winnipeg and could be lost to the team for a month.

The Renegades could use placekicker Matt Kellett as a punter, but the veteran injured his groin during a home game earlier this month against Saskatchewan.

Paopao said rookie placekicker Mark Irvin is a candidate for the punting duties, based on the fact he served in that role during his collegiate playing days at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.

Renegades quarterback Kerry Joseph also punted during his college days at McNeese State in Louisiana, but Paopao said he wants to avoid sending out the franchise player in such situations.

"He could certainly do it, don't get me wrong," said Paopao. "But to have him go out there and punt would just be asking too much."

Ilesic told a Toronto newspaper yesterday that he was in good shape and could help any CFL team.

If he ends up with the Renegades, it wouldn't be the first time the club had an aged punter on the roster.

Glenn Harper turned 40 prior to his second season with the Renegades before he was released and replaced by Fleming.

DEBUT AT AGE 17

Ilesic began his career in 1977 as a 17-year-old with the Eskimos.

He also played for Toronto, Hamilton and B.C. before returning to the Eskimos in 2001 where he filled in as an injury replacement for Sean Fleming.

Ilesic also spent one season in the NFL, punting for the San Diego Chargers in 1989.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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