June 16th, 2024

Receiver Odoms-Dukes working to crack Stampeders’ starting lineup


By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on June 11, 2024.

South Florida safety DeVontres Odoms-Dukes (18) celebrates his touchdown catch against Citadel with teammates, including quarterback Jordan McCloud (3) and wide receiver Randall St. Felix (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tampa, Fla., on September 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP - Chris O'Meara

The 2024 CFL season is starting a little later than anticipated for DeVontres (Tre) Odoms-Dukes.

The Calgary Stampeders opened the season with a 32-24 home win Friday night over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. However, Odoms-Dukes, 26, could only watch after being placed on the injured list.

The third-year receiver’s formula for returning to the field Saturday night at B.C. Place Stadium versus the B.C. Lions remains a simple one: Work harder.

“There are many things you can control and many things you can’t,” Odoms-Dukes said. “That (Friday night) was out of my control but what I can control are my attitude, my work ethic, my character and how I treat and speak to people.

“I know many people would be upset and mad but, honestly, I don’t think that’s good at all. All I can do is control what I can control.”

The six-foot-three, 223-pound receiver registered a career-best 60 catches for 686 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games last season. Odoms-Dukes added a 47-yard reception in Calgary’s 41-30 West Division semifinal loss to B.C.

In 2022, Odoms-Dukes had 11 catches for 112 yards and a TD in four starts. He signed with Calgary after spending time with the NFL’s Denver Broncos following his collegiate career at South Florida.

“I felt last year I did an OK job but I don’t think I played to my ability or potential,” Odoms-Dukes said. “But they kept me and still have me here so I guess that means I didn’t play terrible.

“The biggest thing I learned last year was availability is the best ability.”

Following Calgary’s playoff exit, Odoms-Dukes said a top priority was improving his mental approach to football. That work has helped him put the early-season adversity into proper perspective although the Pensacola, Fla., native isn’t using that as extra motivation this week.

“I don’t really like (using) outside factors to motivate me because I feel motivation should come from within,” he said. “You’ve got to want to do it yourself and not just because of the circumstances you’re in.

“I’ve always pushed myself because it’s a battle, it’s me versus me. Football is a very physical game and everybody thinks it’s about who can run the fastest or jump the highest but it’s really a mental game all 18 weeks and if you’re not mentally locked in, it can be overwhelming.”

Calgary (6-12) finished third in the West to make the playoffs for an 18th straight season. However, the losing record was the franchise’s first since ’07.

“Of course, everybody has standards and it’s either you hit them or you don’t,” Odoms-Dukes said. “But once you get to the playoffs, everyone is 0-0 and it’s time to go get it.

“We got into the playoffs last year, that was just a little taste. Now it’s time to go win the whole thing, honestly. That’s all we’ve been talking about since the end of last year.”

Odoms-Dukes is represented by Kenny Kim of Summit Athletes. The Florida-based agent said their relationship is unique.

“We’re from the same hometown so to be able to represent a local athlete and share in his successes on and off the field is very special to me,” Kim said. “Tre is very a very humble, hard-working and big-bodied player who I believe has the potential to be one of the league’s best receivers.”

Upon signing with Calgary, Odoms-Dukes spent time initially getting acclimated to Canadian football. But it didn’t take him long to realize the game is ideally suited for offence.

“I love it all,” he said. “It’s difficult to defend a six-foot-three, 225-pound receiver running at you (with 10-yard start) and then you’ve got someone like Jake (Calgary starter Jake Maier) who can throw 60-to-70 yards down the field.

“At first, the waggle kind of threw me off so I practised it and adapted quickly. It’s pretty much the same game, just with a few more advantages.”

When Odoms-Dukes has a CFL query, he leans on fellow receiver Reggie Begelton. The two-time league all-star is in his seventh season with Calgary and is also represented by Kim.

“I’m a pretty easy person to talk to so Reggie and I got along as soon as I got here,” Odoms-Dukes said. “I’d say he’s taken me under his wing because he most definitely helps me out when it comes to routes and stuff like that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2024.

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