Argos' Tranks thankful for chance

Sammy Tranks catches the ball during Argos practice yesterday and is absolutely elated to do so....

Sammy Tranks catches the ball during Argos practice yesterday and is absolutely elated to do so. (Dave Abel/QMI AGENCY)

BILL LANKOFF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

Sammy Tranks may have been the happiest Argonaut on the practice field Wednesday. And, he’s not even going to be playing Saturday when the team heads to Winnipeg.

Tranks has been a testament to tenacity. He is everything professional sports so often is not — dedicated to his profession because he loves it, not because of the fame and paycheque it might bring. Frankly, Tranks, 25, has seen precious little of the latter in his abbreviated career.

If ever a man has had a black cloud lining his aspirations, it would be Tranks. If he could catch a break as well as he can catch a football chances are he’d have established himself in the CFL by now.

Instead, he has spent more time in hospital lineups than he has in the Argonauts’ lineup.

But persistence has brought him back to the club’s practice roster, chasing down balls from interim No. 1 quarterback Jarious Jackson, working out with the scout team, stretching but mostly, just wearing a great big smile along with the No. 84 he first donned last season.

That was his rookie campaign in the CFL. “To put a cliche on it, you could say it was injury-plagued,” said Tranks, back after being cut following training camp and told to go home and rehabilitate the shattered ligament in his knee.

“I knew that I would come back physically. I wasn’t sure I’d be back here. I was hoping because I’m familiar with the offence.

They said if I was healthy, if I still had my quickness, my speed and could do my cuts that they’d bring me back. I knew my abilities would never waver. It’s back. It feels good. It was just a matter of time. A matter of patience.”

Patience.

It has become Tranks’ buzzword, an enforced companion ever since his freshman year at Edward Waters College. Don’t bother looking up his stats; there aren’t any. “It was 2005 in Jacksonville Florida. I ran into a blocking sled. Stabbed me, lacerated the femoral artery — the same place the late Sean Taylor was shot,” he said, pointing to his thigh. “It’s dangerous. They rushed me right into surgery. I was out for the season.”

What followed were four successful seasons at Seton Hill, a Division II school in Greensburg, Pa., where he earned a reputation as a sure-handed receiver and one of those all-around athletes who can play special teams and excel. The Argos found out what kind of player he was quickly after he made the team in 2011.

“I hurt my shoulder in pre-season. I battled back in Week 3 or 4, whatever and I had an OK game.”

OK is being somewhat modest. He destroyed Odell Willis with a block, then later scored his only CFL touchdown when he ran away from 2011 defensive player of the year, Jovon Johnson. “Yeah, I had a pretty good block. First play of the game. I don’t think he saw it at all,” said Tranks. He grins. Chuckles. Then adds, “I’m not sure I want to meet him if he does know that I’m coming.”

With the Argonauts desperate for go-to receivers, it looked like it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

“In Edmonton the following week I reinjured the shoulder. Went on the practice squad. Week 14 I came back against Hamilton.”

That didn’t last long. Stretching out to make a catch along the sidelines in the second half, he limped from the field.

“Tore my ACL,” he said. “That’s how it goes. It’s been a short career.”

Tranks professional stats consist of seven catches for 71 yards and one touchdown in two games. And, so it was back to a familiar routine. Rehabilitation. Gyms. And, a familiar mantra: “No pain, no game.” He spent the entire off-season in Mississauga rehabilitating.

All he got for his dedication following training camp this summer, was a ticket back to Pennsylvania and faint hope that when fully healed the Argonauts would have another look. “It did teach me about patience. I’ve got a couple videos on You Tube (titled: Courage to Continue) about youth mentoring. It’s about persistence ... not quitting when you think you can’t go on.”

So, it is that Wednesday the Argos decided to have that other look.

“We’ve always liked Sammy. He’s just had some tough injuries,” said head coach Scott Milanovich. “It’ll be interesting to look at the film and see how he did on the scout team. Good guy. We were happy he made it back.”

For a player who grew up watching the Steelers, the Eagles, and the NFL, he has an unexpected admiration for the CFL and, in particular, the Argonauts. “When I got here last year (general manager) Jim Barker taught us about the Argonauts’ history and the pride people have in this organization. This year there’s the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto ... just the football history makes this a great place to be.

“My girlfriend wasn’t happy when I stayed here in the off-season. But I’m comfortable here. And it’s nice to come out here and see a lot of my teammates from last year. It just feels like home.”

 


Videos

Photos