The B.C. Lions will spend a good deal of time during training camp searching for a new running back, now that former starter Stefan Logan has signed on to play in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And those are some big shoes to fill. Logan ran for 889 yards and caught 52 passes for 477 yards last season for the Lions.
Among the candidates for Logan's job are Damian Sims and Martell Mallett. Both have impressive resume's, but in their effort to get noticed by the Lions, both needed some lobby power. Simms is the nephew of Lions defensive back Korey Banks, while Mallett was coached last season by long-time Lion Carl Kidd at Arkansas-Pine Bluff of the NCAA. Both Kidd and Banks called Lions personnel director Roy Shivers to help their protege's get signed, and both won't hestitate to sing their praises to the coaches.
"I already told them 'look at the size'. That's it. I mean, he's a big guy. He's going to run you over, and that's what the coach wants." said Kidd, who is attending Lions training camp as a guest coach.
"My word is on the line. It's my credibility, so if he sucks, who is going to listen to me next time?," said Banks. "But if he's great, which I know he is, then it will open up the door for me to bring in more guys who I know can help us."
Both Banks and Kidd have made their living on the defensive side of the ball, so their impact on Sims and Mallett's games are debatable. But they are absolutely taking a role in teaching their pupils how to talk the talk in the CFL. And both of the younger players will take the advice of their mentors and apply them to their efforts to make the Lions.
"(Banks taught me to) never back down, have a relentless attitude, a relentless approach, always attack, and just play big," said Sims of his uncle.
Of Kidd, Mallett commented that "He taught me life, pretty much. I mean, football relates to life...they go hand-in-hand."
As for B.C.'s head coach, he's happy to have two players in camp who have learned from role models who are a part of the Lions family.
"Well, if they are as good as football players as those guys have been, then I think we'll have two very good football players here," said Lions head coach Wally Buono.
One longshot to get the backfield job is Amos Allen, who backed up Stefan Logan in both high school and college. He was cut by the Lions last year and then given another opportunity this season. And then there is Ian Smart, who has been one of the best kick returners in the CFL in the past decade, but Buono says he would not sacrifice a great running back for a kick returner.
- Written with files from TSN's Farhan Lalji