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Respect, redemption the goals for Stanback after signing with B.C. Lions

Grey Cup winning running back was released last week by Montreal
Montreal Alouettes running back William Stanback holds up the Grey Cup during the Grey Cup celebration in Montreal on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. The 29-year-old American had spent the last five seasons with the Alouettes before being released last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

William Stanback sees the next CFL season as a redemption year.

The 29-year-old American had spent the last five seasons with the Montreal Alouettes before being released last week.

The B.C. Lions signed the veteran running back to a one-year contract on Tuesday.

“I want to come out there and do everything I have to do to be the best that I can be,” the newly signed Lion said Wednesday. “I want to come out there with a vengeance and kind of kick everyone’s butts.”

Stanback ran for 800 yards on 147 carries (5.4-yard average) and two touchdowns last season as Montreal captured the Grey Cup.

He appeared in 62 career games with the Alouettes, rushing for 3,716 yards on 625 carries (5.9-yard average) with 11 TDs.

He also had 107 catches for 1,058 yards and four touchdowns.

Stanback said he was willing to accept a reduced salary to stay in Montreal, but claims the front office never attempted to make a deal.

After the Als won the Grey Cup last November, general manager Danny Maciocia made it clear one of his three tailbacks — Stanback, Walter Fletcher or Canadian Jeshrun Antwi — would not return.

“I already knew I had to take a pay cut, that was evident. I had no problems with that whatsoever,” Stanback said.

“I wanted to be treated right, I wanted to be respected and I didn’t want to be looked at like I’m just being tolerated. I wanted to make sure that wherever I go, I’m treated with respect like the vet I am.”

The move also reunites Stanback with former Alouette Vernon Adams Jr., which he says will help him in adjusting to the play schemes.

Adams had two stints in Montreal, from 2016-17 and 2018-22.

“I feel like this is a great fit for me,” Stanback said. “Being back with someone like that who knows me personally.”

The Lions struggled with their run game last season, finishing last in the league for both yards and rushes per game.

Running back Taquan Mizzell finished with 773 rushing yards, with Adams behind him with 324.

Stanback is confident that his presence will elevate B.C.’s running game.

“We have to make sure that we can stick to it, and understand whenever there’s tight games we have to make sure we stick with what makes us successful and that’s a balanced attack,” he said. “I feel like that can get us over the hump in the Western finals. I truly believe that.”

Stanback said he hasn’t spoken yet to Lions head coach Rick Campbell about football or the plans on offence. Instead, their conversations have focused on personality and team fit — and the veteran is confident his skills will be properly utilized in Vancouver.

The Lions’ 2023 season ended with a 24-13 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Western Conference final.

B.C. will host the 111th Grey Cup in November, marking the 17th time Vancouver has hosted the event and the first since 2014.

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