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

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

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read