Calgary Stampeders defensive line coach DeVone Claybrooks poses for a celebration photo after winning the 2014 CFL Grey Cup over Hamilton in Vancouver on November 30, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jimmy Jeong)

DeVone Claybrooks poised to blaze own path as B.C. Lions head coach

Claybrooks spent seven seasons with the Calgary Stampeders

He’s yet to coach a game for the B.C. Lions, but DeVone Claybrooks isn’t worried about having to fill the shoes of legendary head coach Wally Buono.

Buono retired at season’s end, culminating an illustrious 46-year tenure as a CFL player, coach and executive. Buono, 68, won seven Grey Cups (two as a player, record-tying five as a head coach), four coach-of-the-year honours, 13 West Division titles and the most games (282) in league history.

READ MORE: B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Enter Claybrooks, a six-foot-three, 300-pound former defensive lineman who earned a Super Bowl ring as a player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in ‘02 and two Grey Cups (2014, ‘18) as a coach with the Calgary Stampeders.

“It (replacing Buono) has got to be in my head considering I get asked about it every five minutes,” Claybrooks said with a chuckle from Mont Tremblant, Que., where CFL GMs, presidents and coaches are meeting this week. “The funny thing is everyone asks me, ‘How are you going to fill Wally’s shoes?’

“I’m like, ‘I’m not. Wally wears a 10 1/2 or 11 and I wear a 14.’ At the end of the day he had his journey and steered his car the way he wanted to. I’m driving this car now. I just got an oil change and tuneup and he gave me the keys. I’m going to drive it in the direction I see fit.”

That’s not to say Claybrooks won’t have Buono’s number on speed dial.

“The best part about it is I do have him to lean on if I have questions,” Claybrooks said. “He’s a great man, a great counsellor, a great mentor.

“He’s been very helpful and open. I can’t ask for more.”

Claybrooks, 41, didn’t really celebrate Calgary’s 27-16 Grey Cup win over Ottawa on Nov. 25 in Edmonton. Shortly afterwards, the Stampeders’ defensive co-ordinator interviewed with both Toronto and B.C. before being named Lions head coach Dec. 11.

“My mom was like, ‘Baby, you’ve got to enjoy this for a day or two,’” Claybrooks said. “We had a few drinks and went out for a nice dinner but I think if you get caught looking at the last one you’re not going to win the next one.”

Claybrooks spent seven seasons in Calgary, the last three as defensive co-ordinator. The Stampeders (CFL-best 13-5 record in 2018) have boasted the league’s top defence during Claybrooks’ tenure, last year finishing first in 10 of the league’s 20 defensive categories.

B.C. (9-9) finished fourth in the West Division before losing 48-8 to Hamilton in the East Division semifinal. The Lions’ defence finished tied for the CFL lead in interceptions (21) and sacks (45) and was ranked second against the pass (247.2 yards per game) but was seventh in points (26.3) and rushing yards (113.8) allowed.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vancouver Island firefighters learn to save themselves in ground survival training

Specialized training equipment brought in for Ground Survival Program

Vancouver Island seniors getting stronger with age

Weightlifting couple qualify to compete at Worlds Masters in Montreal in August

Editorial: Blaming girls’ clothing for boys’ behaviour dangerous nonsense

Is a pair of short shorts and tank top going to be an accepted excuse for a boy throughout life?

Step inside hockey’s ultimate fan cave

Vancouver Island shrine to the game not what you’d expect and attracting international attention

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

Most Read