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. DeVone Claybrooks has been named the new head coach of the B.C. Lions. The Lions made the long-expected move official in a news release Tuesday. The former Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator replaces Wally Buono, who retired at the end of the season following 46 years in the CFL. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jimmy Jeong

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

VANCOUVER — DeVone Claybrooks has finally found the right place to become a head coach.

There have been other job opportunities in both the CFL and NFL, the 41-year-old said, but something was always off.

That changed with an offer from the B.C. Lions. He was announced as the team’s new head coach Tuesday.

“It’s about fit and right place and right circumstances. Because you don’t want your first job to be your last,” the former Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator told reporters.

The difference in B.C. is the team’s general manager, Ed Hervey, Claybrooks said.

“It’s about trust. And with the other opportunities, I didn’t feel 100 per cent that I could buy in and that it would be the way it should be or the way it had been presented to me,” he said. “At least I can say with this guy here is what I see is what I get.”

Claybrooks spent seven years on the Stamps’ coaching staff, including four as the defensive line coach, and won a Grey Cup with the team last month.

Calgary’s defence allowed the fewest points in the league over his three seasons as defensive co-ordinator.

He reportedly also interviewed with Toronto for their open head coach position, which the Argonauts filled by hiring Corey Chamblin on Monday.

Competition for the “rising star” was stiff, Hervey said.

“DeVone was the number one candidate. Make no mistakes about it. This was clear across the board,” he said. “I want sure if we were going to be able to get him.”

The interview process was about two weeks long, but Hervey said he’s been getting to know Claybrooks for several years and has long wanted to work with him.

“We have this similar belief on how football teams should be built and we’re excited about that and we’re looking forward to the challenges that are ahead,” he said.

With several key players eligible for free agency this year, the team Claybrooks and Hervey build could look much different come training camp.

Neither gave may clues Tuesday about who might be on their roster, but both said they’re looking for hard-working players who want to win.

“I can’t predict what we’re going to be but I can predict one thing — we’re going to be extremely hard working and we’re going to be very physical on the field and we’re going to be disciplined,” Hervey said.

RELATED: Lions GM Ed Hervey has plans for busy CFL off-season

Claybrooks replaces Wally Buono, who retired at the end of the season following 46 years in the CFL.

“I’m not trying to fill Wally’s shoes. I’m wearing my own,” the new coach said.

“So I’m going to forge my own legacy and my own standard of what we’re doing around here. We’re just going to build off that platform that he left us. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The native of Martinsville, Va., spent 11 years playing defensive tackle in the NFL, CFL and in Europe.

As far back as high school, coaches helped him understand not on his role, but the defence as a whole, molding the way he viewed the game and guiding him towards coaching after his playing career ended.

Claybrooks said he got into coaching to help young men become grown men.

“It’s funny because you get players and they first get there and they’re chasing girls and swiping left and right and playing video games,” he said with a laugh. “And then when they leave you years later, they’ve got families and careers and are talking about their second careers and all that. That’s more rewarding than anything.”

The coaching appointment caps a busy year for Claybrooks, who suffered a major health scare in August.

A neighbour found him semi-conscious in his Calgary home and he was rushed to hospital, where he was later diagnosed with diabetes.

Now Claybrooks sees that he had “every warning sign in the book,” from blurred vision and increased urination to fatigue, but excused each, thinking he was working too hard or coming down with the flu.

“All the signs were there, but it was like it was in a French and I was speaking English,” he said.

It was his mother, Sally Claybrooks, who knew something was wrong when her eldest child said he wasn’t going to work and then didn’t call. She called the neighbour, was in the hospital when he woke up and took care of him as he recovered.

“She cleaned up all the sugar and every sweet imaginable that was in my house. They were all gone and replaced with fruit. I think I’m the last two months, I’ve eaten more fruit than in my 41 years of life,” Claybrooks said.

Sally Claybrooks was also on hand Tuesday as her son was announced the 26th coach in B.C. Lions history.

“Words can’t even explain it. I’m just excited,” she said, beaming. “To see him live out his childhood dream, it’s just so amazing. A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of sacrifices that he’s made, just to get where he is today.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at the Duncan Showroom’s storytelling event later this month. (Photo Submitted)
Duncan Showroom hosts storytellers series

Monthly shows will be broadcast live on YouTube

A freight train makes its way over the Black Bridge in Duncan, back when rail was still running on the E&N corridor. A new survey from Island Corridor Foundation found that there is still a large amount of support for getting trains up and running again. (Citizen file)
Big support for rail on Vancouver Island, survey finds

80 per cent of survey respondents believe a modern and revitalized rail system should be funded

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan fishes with Cowichan elders at Cowichan Valley campaign stop

B.C. premier talks mental health and addictions, universal income

Will Arquiett had 30 points in 53 games with the Caps last season. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Capitals continue making trades

Four players added in return for Arquiett and Morgan

“The area’s youth Scouting commissioner Brian Crockett, at the campground on the Bald Mountain Peninsula’s Camp Woodlands Scout/Guide Camp, which saw overnight campers and international radio communication, Saturday, Oct. 16.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette, Oct. 20, 2010/Tyler Clarke photo)
Lake Flashback: Scouting return, fish biting, and election looms

Remember these stories from Cowichan Lake?

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Most Read