Stamps’ Smith makes his mark, earns CFL top Canadian

 

Rookie had three sacks in the fourth quarter against the B.C. Lions

 
 
 
 
Calgary Stampeders’ Juwan Simpson, left, and Quinn Smith, right, tackle B.C. Lions’ Stefan Logan as he carries the ball during last weekend’s game. Smith had three sacks and was, on Tuesday, named the CFL’s top Canadian of the week.
 

Calgary Stampeders’ Juwan Simpson, left, and Quinn Smith, right, tackle B.C. Lions’ Stefan Logan as he carries the ball during last weekend’s game. Smith had three sacks and was, on Tuesday, named the CFL’s top Canadian of the week.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS

For a kid fresh out of university, suiting up for the Calgary Stampeders has been at times overwhelming, at other times unbelievably rewarding.

Friday night in Vancouver was an example of the latter.

In the final game of his first CFL regular season, defensive tackle Quinn Smith made his mark by depositing Kevin Glenn on the turf three times in the fourth quarter, the first three-sack performance by a Stampeders rookie since Mike Labinjo did it against Edmonton in 2008.

“Our defensive line was really rushing well as a unit,” explained Smith. “We had great coverage in the back end so the quarterback was holding on to the ball for a little bit longer. Especially when they’re playing catch-up, they had to throw the ball . . . I had a couple of good rushes. I was lucky to get three in one quarter.”

The CFL on Tuesday awarded the 23-year-old their top Canadian of the week prize, a nice way to cap off his inaugural campaign.

“It’s definitely a great honour,” Smith admitted. “There are so many great players in the league and to be chosen for that, it’s pretty special.

“It’s a big confidence boost. Especially, it’s my first year and coming from college to here, it’s a big step. Through the whole season, my confidence was like a roller-coaster, up and down. Definitely, it’s up right now and I feel like I can go through anything.”

Defensive line coach DeVone Claybrooks was complimentary, in a back-handed sort of way.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day and he’s making progress,” he said of Smith. “He’s taking the coaching and taking the drills to the field. Older guys are working with him, putting in a lot of time and you’re seeing the benefits of it. He made a few great plays on the run, some tackles for losses back there. When he’s a force and you can get him to believe in what the system is — he was a tweener last year in college, he played a little O-line and D-line, so he has some bad habits . . . we’re trying to break those. But he puts in a lot of work and he does extra things.”

A first-round pick out of Concordia in the 2014 CFL draft (seventh overall), Smith has amassed 10 tackles, including three for a loss, and four sacks. His season has been typical of a Canadian rookie.

“At first, it was a little intimidating,” the 6-foot-2, 300-pounder out of Scarborough, Ont., admitted. “You see all these big guys, some of them have played in the NFL, so it was a little intimidating. But as the season goes on, we’re family now. If you make a few plays on the field, you kind of get accepted more. But, yeah, they’ve welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t be happier right now.”

Certainly, he’s caught the eye of his head coach.

“Trifecta Quinn Smith,” grinned head coach/GM John Hufnagel, “he had a heckuva fourth quarter. He’s a young man who’s come in and worked hard, improved as the year’s gone along. And he’s very versatile, because we have him working as an offensive lineman also.”

But it’s with the D-line that he’s contributed most and, though he may be tough to please, Claybrooks likes the way the young man has blended in with the crowd.

“I call my group 31 flavours because they’re like Baskin-Robbins,” said Claybrooks, “because they’re all different and all screwed up. He fits right in with the room. He’s a good kid and he’s working hard, so the sky’s the limit for him.”

EXTRA YARDS . . . Receiver Maurice Price and running back Jon Cornish both continued their concussion protocol on Tuesday . . . DL Charleston Hughes (foot) is expected to do some individual drills on Friday and the team will see then what his status is.

 
 
 
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Calgary Stampeders’ Juwan Simpson, left, and Quinn Smith, right, tackle B.C. Lions’ Stefan Logan as he carries the ball during last weekend’s game. Smith had three sacks and was, on Tuesday, named the CFL’s top Canadian of the week.
 

Calgary Stampeders’ Juwan Simpson, left, and Quinn Smith, right, tackle B.C. Lions’ Stefan Logan as he carries the ball during last weekend’s game. Smith had three sacks and was, on Tuesday, named the CFL’s top Canadian of the week.

Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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