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

Stumpage costs to increase on July 1

MLA John Rustad speaks about the issues faced by the B.C. forest industry

B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Bill C-48 bars oil tankers from loading at ports on B.C’s north coast

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

Fraser Lake business offers equine therapy to deal with life stressors

The idea is to have diverse businesses that provide more options to residents and tourists says Kim Watt-Senner

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Tsilhqot’in Nation urges Taseko Mines to stop drilling plans before conflict grows

Nation said Teztan Biny area is of ‘profound cultural and spiritual importance’

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from B.C. furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Rising gas prices force B.C. residents to rethink summer road trips: poll

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Two in hospital after plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

Most Read