Lions keep linebacker Adam Bighill in fold
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|Lions linebacker Adam Bighill during the CFL Western Division final against the Stampeders at BC Place in Vancouver, B.C., Nov. 18, 2012. (BOB FRID/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - After the season Adam Bighill put together in 2012, it seemed like an obvious decision for the B.C. Lions to bring him back.
Meanwhile, for the middle linebacker, who was arguably the best defensive player on the club, there was certainly a strong reason for him to return. After all, this was the team that gave him a chance to find success in the CFL in the first place.
That's why Tuesday's announcement that Bighill had signed a two-year contract extension with the Lions was an expected one. Even so, it wasn't exactly a no-brainer from the get-go for the 24-year-old, who, like many playing in Canada, pondered bringing his craft south of the border.
"It was weighing on my mind a lot earlier on whether I should try the NFL," Bighill said at the team's Surrey practice facility. "But talking with the important people in my life that helped mentor me, I came to a decision that an extension makes the most sense.
"Basically I'm having so much fun up here. It's a great place to be if you want to play football ... and I'm a starting middle linebacker and you really can't beat playing. In the NFL you'd be trying to play special teams, trying to work your way onto the starting roster and it would be a constant struggle to be where you want to be. I'm exactly where I want to be right now. Once I realized that, it became a lot easier decision."
The Lions can be thankful for that.
General manager Wally Buono called the beginning in the building of the 2013 team, one looking to redeem itself after an earlier-than-expected exit in November. The Bighill signing keeps their defensive unit formidable.
"He lived up to what we expected him to do," Buono said of the 5-foot-10, 225-pounder. "Adam exploded onto the scene and he made a huge impact on the best defence for the regular season in the CFL and when you look at why the B.C. Lions was successful, he was definitely a reason for that.
"The thing that impressed me, and this is what you look for in great linebackers ... was that he's explosive, he's tremendously physically tough, he's mentally tough and he can make plays. Nothing is too big for him."
In 2012, the Montesano, Wash., native finished second in the CFL, behind Edmonton's J.C. Sherritt, with 104 tackles and was tied for the league-lead in forced turnovers with seven: four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He was also second on the team in sacks, with nine, while adding 16 special teams tackles.
Not only did he earn four defensive player of the week honours along with a defensive player of the month award for October, the second-year player was also named to both the West Division and CFL all-star teams.
All the numbers and accolades, though, isn't what the Central Washington University grad wants to replicate for next season.
"I won't have the exact same year as last year, it might be a little better, it might be not as fulfilled with stats where I still make a main contribution to helping us win the Grey Cup. But if I'm doing what I should be doing, things are going to be good," he said. "You play to win, and that's all I'm focused on."
As for how he plans to celebrate his new contract, Bighill points out he'll be heading on a vacation to Orlando for Christmas.
"It's much deserved," he said with a smile. "It's nice to be rewarded and nice to be wanted."