Brett Cameron has big boots to fill with Blue Bombers
Rookie punter's father Bob was Hall of Fame kicker in Winnipeg
Brett Cameron didn't intentionally try to follow in his father's footsteps.
But there he was Friday at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rookie camp working to make the team as a punter like his legendary dad, Bob Cameron, who still holds the CFL record for punting yards.
"Growing up I was playing hockey, I was quarterbacking the football team, I was kicking and punting as well but I wasn't sure where it was going to lead me," he said as rookie camp wrapped up.
It landed Brett Cameron a football scholarship at the University of North Dakota, where he earned a biology degree. After three years as a starter he finished with a career punting average of 40.6 yards, leaving him tied for second-best in school history.
Now that it has led him to the Bombers, where he's even wearing his dad's old No. 6 — which the team pulled out of its unofficial retirement closet for the youngster — Brett Cameron admits it's a pretty good feeling.
And yes, he confesses, it was something he thought about a long time ago when his father was still with the Bombers.
Bob Cameron played 23 seasons in Winnipeg, wrapping up his career in 2002. The 2010 Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee was part of three Grey Cup-winning teams and also holds the CFL record for most consecutive games played at 353.
"It's been something I've been thinking about since I was a little kid, walking around the Bomber stadium," the younger Cameron said. "I always wanted to wear No. 6 and now to get a chance to do that, it's pretty cool."
Cameron is one of three new punters the Bombers are trying out this season. Head coach Tim Burke says all three have strong enough legs to be good CFL punters but the question remains whether they can put it together in a game situation.
Mike Renaud is entering his fifth season as the team's punter. It's unclear whether the club is really shopping for a replacement or just trying to push Renaud to perform a little better.
But the three newcomers are happy to get a shot and their auditions will continue Sunday when training camp opens.
The other new punters include Australian Rules Football player Tim Hutchison and former UBC kicker Billy Pavlopoulos, who was suspended from college play after unintentionally taking a supplement that contained a banned substance.
Pavlopoulos hasn't wasted the time off, going to a development camp in Arizona to work on his technique. He knows there may be a chance the team is only trying to light a fire under Renaud.
"I know there's four guys here but that's what I liked about going to Arizona," Pavlopoulos said. "It taught me to just focus on what I'm doing individually, whether or not the team just plans to have me as a camp leg or they are planning to . . try and replace someone."
Hutchsion probably has had the biggest adjustment to make because of differences in the ball and the way it is kicked in Australia. But this is his second shot at the CFL, having tried out last season with the Toronto Argonauts.
"Our ball is a lot rounder, it's not as pointy," he said. "The point where you drop it at is more in the middle of your body.
"Here you've got to drop it outside a lot more so that took time to adjust to. Now I'm just picking up little pieces as I go."
If Hutchsion makes it, he won't be a pioneer. Josh Bartel, a former Australian Rules Football player, punted last season for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.