Diontae Spencer has a tough task this season.
The second-year Toronto Argonauts wide receiver, will most likely be the man responsible for filling the void left by the departure of the team’s face of the franchise for several years, Chad Owens.
Owens, now with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, joined the Argonauts back in 2010, and for six seasons thrilled fans with electrifying plays on both offence and in the return game.
But at the age of 34, Toronto elected not to re-sign the CFL’s 2012 most outstanding player.
Spencer says he’s ready to take over.
“I’m ready to fulfill that role,” said Spencer, at Alumni Stadium on the University of Guelph campus during the first day of Toronto Argonauts training camp.
“I feel like the team knows that I’m fulfilling that role and they trust me and that’s the biggest thing. They know that I can do it, and it’s my job to go out there and prove it.”
“At the end of the day it’s a job, and I have to fulfill the necessary needs to be in this offence and play special teams.”
Spencer, who signed with the team in December of 2014 out of McNeese State University, showed the Argos’ coaching staff his potential when Owens went down with an injury last season.
Playing in a little more than half of the team’s regular season games, Spencer reeled in 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns, plus another 555 yards on 27 kick returns.
Replacing Owens would be a passing of the torch from one diminutive receiver to another. Standing at just five-foot-eight, both men play much bigger than their small frames.
Building on a successful CFL rookie campaign, Spencer, the Louisiana native, returned to his home state to prepare for the 2016 season, where he trained with a friend who arguably may be the best wide receiver in all of professional football: Odell Beckham Jr., of the New York Giants.
“He’s my good friend, we kind of like to motivate each other. He’s a good guy,” said Spencer.
The comrades were introduced through mutual friends and bonded over their passion for football. Spencer credits the Giants wideout with helping him make the decision to come to the CFL.
“He thought it [the CFL] would be a good move for me.” He said ‘It’s football, at the end of the day … just take advantage of the opportunity and good things are going come if you work hard.’”
Spencer and the rest of the Argonauts won’t have to wait long to see Owens on the field, as Toronto and Hamilton clash on June 11 in a pre-season matchup, and then again, for Toronto’s season opener on June 23 from BMO Field.
Follow Tristan on Twitter @_tgarnett