Hathaway's in the show

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Cory Hathaway walked across the turf at McMahon Stadium wearing a three-day beard while shaking off the cobwebs from a cross-country trip.

There's no time to shave while getting prepared for a virtual 'home' game for the Ottawa Renegades fullback.

The rookie 22-year-old grew up in Lethbridge and had to arrange for about 16 friends and family to come up to see him take on the Calgary Stampeders tonight at McMahon (8 p.m.).

And Hathaway is ready to perform. After he was drafted in the fourth round, 28th overall by the 'Gades in the 2005 Canadian college draft, the Tulsa product is living the dream.

He has already scored three touchdowns and started every game when he's healthy.

"I couldn't really ask for anything better," Hathaway said. "I went in with the chance to compete for a job and a chance to start.

"Having success is more than I really ever asked for. Just to be here with a chance to play is great."

Since the Renegades franchise has come back into the league, the team employed Mike Vilimek as its fullback. But the club let their second overall draft pick in 2002 go to Montreal as a free agent, instead banking on finding a replacement.

Hathaway fit the bill, although his role is more in the mode of a tight end, which is what he played in college.

So he came into camp and immediately won the starting job. What's more impressive is Hathaway only switched from defensive line for his junior year at Tulsa.

But in seven games this season, he has already surpassed his career college total for scores, all while trying to fit into the 'Gades offence.

"I've played every position on the field so far in my career," Hathaway said. "In the States, the fullback is a little different. They play with an I-formation.

"Up here, we run so much motion that I play a lot of tight end. It's more like tight end than an American fullback."

The only sign of Hathaway being a rookie was earlier this year when he caught a pass and was drilled by a linebacker when he had his head down. The result was a concussion that caused him to miss one start.

Other than that one blip, his first foray into professional ball has gone better than expected.

"It's been a blast," Hathaway said. "I really enjoyed everything, the atmosphere, the coaching staff and the people I've met down in Ottawa. "It's great to move out there and (it's nice to) make a little money doing this."


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