Still chasing legend

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Tony Bua walked onto the McMahon Stadium turf and immediately saw a familiar name.

The Arkansas product was aiming at Wayne Harris' numbers from the day he arrived in college so he was more than a little surprised to see that name on the Stampeders' Wall of Fame.

"I heard a lot about him at Arkansas but nobody ever told me he went up to the CFL," said Bua, an outside linebacker at Stampeders training camp.

"I saw the name and asked them if it was the same guy. Yup, same guy. I'm looking forward to meeting him."

Harris, a CFL Hall-of-Famer who played for the Stampeders from 1961 to '72, set the Razorbacks single-season record for tackles with 174 in 1960.

Even on Bua's best years he could only get to within 40 of that total, although he did manage to set the school's career mark at 408.

"Every year as a linebacker, you try to get as many tackles as you can," Bua said. "He set a high bar and the coaches who knew him would talk about him a lot."

Bua's career has taken a few interesting turns since he left Arkansas in 2004. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins that season and was seated between star linebackers Junior Seau and Zach Thomas in the locker-room when he arrived there.

He spent a year playing mostly on special teams but when coach Dave Wannstedt was fired and replaced by Nick Saban, Bua was released.

Considered too small to be an NFL linebacker and a step too slow to be a safety, Bua then bounced from the Cowboys to the Bengals to free agency.

"I was kind of a tweener," said Bua, who stands 6 ft. and weights 220 lb. "I fit into the category where they didn't know where to put me and I didn't get a fair shake."

Not wanting to give up on pro football, Bua then hooked up with the Stampeders for the mini-camp and signed right afterwards. The 27-year-old has the coaches intrigued because of the intensity he brings each play and that he loves getting his nose dirty.

Once Bua knew he was coming to the CFL, he started working out with fellow Arkansas alum Gavin Walls, who now stars at defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Walls was kind enough to show Bua some game film and brief him on the rule changes he should expect.

But Bua feels ready to adapt to the Canadian game the same way Harris did four decades ago. He feels he can play multiple positions on defence because of his experience with the Razorbacks.

"In college, we had a crazy defence," said Bua, who has his college number and team name tattooed on his feet.

"It was three-, four-, five- or eight-man fronts. They moved me around a lot. A lot of the stuff we do here is similar but it's not quite the same as before."

So after four years trying accomplish what Harris did in college, Bua can now use him as a measuring stick with the Stamps.

If he even comes close, the club has found a great player because Harris was a four-time CFL defensive player of the year and Grey Cup MVP during his career.

So when Bua gets a chance to meet the Arkansas icon, will he be star struck?

"No but I don't know what I would say," Bua said.

"It would just be neat to talk with a fellow Razorback alumni.

"We could talk about the school and how much it changed over the years."


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