Demetris Summers was sitting in his girlfriend’s apartment playing a video game this winter when the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders called, inviting the former South Carolina tailback to their March tryout in Orlando.
Summers did not have much else to do. He had left a job with his uncle’s bricklaying business and was filling his days with video games and rec basketball games. So Summers attended the workout and earned a free-agent contract with the team known as the “Stamps” north of the border.
Three months later, Summers is a member of a football team for the first time since 2004.
Summers, dismissed from USC following the 2004 season following several positive tests for marijuana, played well in two preseason games before turning his ankle in the fourth quarter last week in the team’s final preseason exhibition game against British Columbia.
Despite the injury, Calgary decided to keep Summers and Ken Simonton, who were competing for the No. 2 spot, when making its final roster cuts last weekend.
“He was happy as all get out and trying to get the coach and the GM to take him off the IR (injured-reserve list) because he’s ready,” said Ewell Gordon, a Columbia-based personal trainer who works with Summers. “He’s champing at the bit.”
Because of the injury, Summers did not play in Calgary’s season-opener Thursday against British Columbia.
Attempts to reach Summers were unsuccessful.
Summers, the state’s all-time rushing leader, ran for 34 yards on three carries with a long gain of 25 yards in Calgary’s final preseason game before sustaining the injury.
“He felt like he could go the next day, but they wanted him to make sure it was healed,” Gordon said. “Based on what he’d done in practice, from my understanding, he’d already pretty much earned a spot.”
Summers, the Gamecocks’ leading rusher in 2003 and ’04, was in the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp for a couple of weeks in 2006 before being released. He tried out for another CFL team last year but was not offered a contract.
Summers, who is 24, said in a May interview that he viewed Calgary as his final shot to play football for a living.
“I’m happy for him. He honestly did the work this time around. He’s been a professional this time,” Gordon said. “As long as he continues to do that, good things will continue to happen for Demetris.”
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.