Stampeders' Brandon Smith finally gets CFL all-star honour

 

 
 
 
 
Toronto Argonauts' Trent Guy, left, and the Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith collide during their game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2014.
 

Toronto Argonauts' Trent Guy, left, and the Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith collide during their game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2014.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

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To say that everyone else around him was more excited about his first-ever all-star selection would be unfair and probably untrue, but Brandon Smith was somewhat reserved in his reaction.

“I think I’m more excited about our team and the place we’re in right now, having the first-round bye,” the Calgary Stampeders’ veteran halfback said.

“Any time you get individual awards, it’s always a good thing, but it never really was my thing. As long as I was appreciated by my team and the coaches, that’s fine with me.

“I never took it personally because I know one day you can be up, the next day you can be down.”

Smith is one of three defensive backs and seven players who were named to the 2014 Canadian Football League West Division all-star team on Wednesday. The other defenders were Fred Bennett and Jamar Wall, while running back Jon Cornish, offensive linemen Stanley Bryant and Brett Jones and punter Rob Maver were also selected.

Smith had a typically productive season as part of a strong secondary, leading the team and finishing third in the CFL with 85 tackles in 18 games.

“That’s kind of my thing,” he said.

“I’m not the guy to get a bunch of interceptions. I figure, during the course of a game, I have to earn my keep somehow, so if I’m not getting interceptions, I have to fly around and get tackles wherever I can.

“I’ve had a job here for seven years now, so I feel something is going right,” the 30-year-old added. “We have a few new guys who’ve come in and made an impact with the team. Just having that chemistry as a unit … Jamar Wall, Fred Bennett, Keon (Raymond), Simp (Juwan Simpson), Charleston (Hughes), (Shawn) Lemon, (Corey) Mace … guys who’ve been here for some time. Everybody coming together for one sole purpose.”

Defensive backs coach Tony Missick was one of those most pleased for Smith.

“I’ve told him, ‘you’re consistent and your name isn’t in the paper that much, so look at it as a good thing,’ ” said Missick. “He’s the (third) leading tackler in the CFL as a defensive back. He only has two interceptions, but he has small hands; the guys kid him about that. He’s been one of the better cover guys, and he’s a physical guy, to be so small.”

Added head coach/GM John Hufnagel on Smith’s first selection: “I’m pretty surprised. I’m very glad for the young man, also … maybe not that young.”

Fellow half-back Wall shared the league lead in interceptions with six, including his first career pick-six — a 50-yard romp against Saskatchewan on Oct. 24.

“You always want more, but you can’t be too greedy,” said the third-year Stamp. “As long as we’re winning, I could have zero picks. You see your ultimate goal, and as long as everyone’s vision is straight and narrow for that, I’m fine with it.

“We fly under the radar a lot at our position. We get the blame if something happens; you don’t always get the recognition we deserve. I’m happy for everyone that made it, especially Smitty. His first one in seven years … well deserved.”

Cornerback Bennett, meanwhile, excelled with 44 tackles in 18 games, as well as four picks.

“It’s a great accolade,” he said.

“Honestly, it came as a surprise. There’s only one thing on my mind and that’s the Grey Cup. I could care less about anything else.

“I go home in two weeks to see my family; I shouldn’t say they don’t matter at this point, they do … but they kinda don’t. I just have one focus right now.

“Our base core guys back there, with all of us coming back, we felt we could put anybody in those (other) positions and not miss a beat. J.Bell and Buddy Jackson have stepped in and done a tremendous job this year. I don’t think we would be where we are without those two. As far as Lin-J Shell, the guys we plugged in … there was never any doubt.”

 
 
 
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Toronto Argonauts' Trent Guy, left, and the Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith collide during their game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2014.
 

Toronto Argonauts' Trent Guy, left, and the Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith collide during their game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sept. 13, 2014.

Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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