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

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

Just Posted

Raphael Baruh of Slavic Rolls creates one of his Eastern European desserts at the Maple Ridge food truck festival on Saturday afternoon. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Food Truck Festival in Maple Ridge this weekend

Pick the drive-through lane for the food you like at Albion Fair Grounds

Coyotes walk down a Maple Ridge residential street. (Special to The News)
Security camera shows coyotes walking down Maple Ridge street

A warning to Silver Valley residents to keep their pets indoors, says home owner

Coach Ray Wakeman and the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club are looking for new members. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge club looking for lawn bowlers

Games have been modified for safety during COVID-19

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Would Maple Ridge councillors want cannabis store beside them?

Resident concerned about how close cannabis store is to her home

Sign on the door explains Service BC office in Maple Ridge is by appointment. (Neil Corbett/The News)
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read