Argo prospect Tranks is a survivor

Toronto Argos practice at U of Toronto Mississauga field on Monday June 13, 2011. WR Sammy Tranks...

Toronto Argos practice at U of Toronto Mississauga field on Monday June 13, 2011. WR Sammy Tranks stretches. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:19 PM ET

Sammy Tranks felt shame.

In a split second, the feeling became one of horror.

During training camp with at Edward Waters College in the fall of 2005, Tranks was running a pass route and raced out of bounds, crashing at full speed into a blocking sled.

"I was embarrassed -- who runs into a blocking sled?" Tranks said on Tuesday. "I got off it, went to take a step and I fell down. I looked in my shorts and they were full of blood."

Part of the blocking sled had pierced the common femoral artery, going six inches into Tranks' left leg. He was rushed to hospital, and before he was taken into an operating room, had enough time to ask a nurse what the chances were that he would lose the leg if he didn't have surgery.

The answer was 95%, the last thing Tranks remembered hearing before he was put under anaesthesia. The operation went on for 13 hours. Tranks has a scar that runs from above his abdomen down to his inner thigh.

"It's a good reminder," Tranks said. "I was out for the whole year. From there, it was an uphill climb."

Tranks transferred to Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania from Edward Waters, a tiny private school in Jacksonville, Fla. He changed his major to psychology from physical education, unsure whether he had a future in football.

"I had pretty much given up," the 24-year-old receiver/kick returner said. "But I'm faithful and I had a great support system with my family."

Argos director of player personnel Mike Hagen sifts through hundreds of free agents' highlight DVDs during the off-season, and when a player has been at a school as small as Seton Hill, Hagen wants to see domination. Tranks was a force and that led to his invitation to the Argos' free-agent camp in Florida in April. He was sharp there, and signed with the Boatmen on June 1.

Tranks finds himself battling for a spot at receiver at Argos training camp, and like any other rookie, has had some off-days mixed in with the good.

The receiving corps is clogged with players trying to earn a full-time role. Tranks is in a group that includes P.K. Sam, Brandon Rideau, D.J. Boldin and James Robinson, among others.

"He has a shot," Argos head coach and general manager Jim Barker said. "I like that he makes plays. He disappeared for two days, he started running some wrong routes, but he came back (on Tuesday) and was outstanding again."

The six-foot, 186-pound Tranks knows he is in tough. Past experiences have strengthened his resolve.

"I'm happy," Tranks said. "I'm trying to learn as much as possible. God has my back. I've been through a lot on the football field. I'll do what I can to make the team, do whatever the coaches want."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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