Cétoute leaves a mark

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Obed Cétoute is one of about 75 bodies at the Argonauts training camp -- famous from one end of the block to the other in his Montreal neighbourhood.

The Argos are betting that fame will soon spread, if not today or tomorrow, then someday. He is part of the wave of the future that has upped the wattage on head coach Pinball Clemons' grin.

Cétoute, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver out of Central Michigan, pivots and dives towards a pass. Clumps of grass fly through the air with an audible gasp from players and onlookers as the ball disappears into his hands. Plays like that are going to win a guy a job.

"The challenge for a new player is that in almost every situation you have to displace someone who's already there. So, I tell the guys, if you leave the decision in our hands that's your fault," Clemons said. "I can't promise you that I'm a great decision-maker. It is your job to differentiate yourself and set yourself apart."

Cétoute is setting himself apart.

So has Taylor Robertson. He's 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds and the best friend a quarterback ever had. While much of the talk is centred around which of the four quarterbacks in camp will survive, how well the Argos' offence performs this year probably depends as much on an improved offensive line.

Robertson, Clemons says will give them that. "Taylor Robertson is just a giant of a man. We traded our No.1 pick to Calgary to get him with the understanding our greatest need was the offensive line. We needed another guy who could start." His acquisition gives the Argos, along with Chad Folk and Jude St. John an all-Canadian blocking front -- and a good one.

"We have more team depth, especially on the offensive line," Clemons said. "We have guys who are going to be great long-term. Robertson has a great future, Jeff Keeping is just getting started and Brian Ramsay and Scott Evans are going to be pushing those guys . We're not going to push Jude St. John and Chad Folk out of the door quite yet but we've got young guys breathing down their necks now. We may see four guys (Robertson, Keeping, Ramsay and Evans) who are going to be there for the next 10 years."

It is that kind of spring for the Argonauts as they prepared for tomorrow's first exhibition game. Faces are changing. This isn't a house-cleaning, but the tendrils of a rebirth are evident.

"We've been very pleased, especially what we're getting from some of our draft picks and trades," Clemons said. On the field Cétoute makes another nifty catch.

"The speed is different.," Cétoute said after the controlled scrimmage. "It's faster and the defensive backs are big and quick and they read you. I'm going to have to learn to use my size and be better at shielding the ball."

He won't start this year but knows there's a good chance at a backup spot. And, he's living large. "I've been watching the CFL since I was a kid. My dream was always to play pro football and right now I'm having so much fun just being here playing with guys I've only seen on TV or film."

The Argos have good receivers but Cétoute has one thing they don't -- size. "Obed is such a big target," Clemons said. "The young Canadian players we've got at camp are probably the best we've ever had as a group. We look at Brad Smith (a sixth-round pick out of Queens). You look at Cétoute. They're going to be formidable receivers; both will only get better."

As to a QB, Clemons is being coy. Eric Crouch, Damon Allen, Mike McMahon and Michael Bishop all are expected to play tomorrow.

"To say that you come in with no preconceived notion as to who is No. 1 is false," Clemons said. He's just not saying what any notions he might have, might be.

Suffice to say while all this talk of rebirth and youth is nice, Clemons also admits the future is now. Playing in a market like Toronto it can't be any other way: "Our job is to win the Grey Cup this year. We're not preparing ourselves for 2010. We're not rebuilding, if anything let's call it retooling."


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