Linebacker shows chops on stage and gridiron

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

After the first week of training camp, Tristan Black proved he could do a great impression of backup quarterback Barrick Nealy.

It seems the second-round draft pick has since stepped into the important role as defensive contributor with the Calgary Stampeders.

At the annual rookie show, a group of freshmen did a video skit and linebacker Black played Nealy -- who did questionable things to get Henry Burris out of the way and become the No. 1 QB.

The segment stole the show, and Black has felt like a part of the team ever since.

"I thought there would be a whole lot of hazing and side stuff that doesn't have to do with football, but these guys have been really focused on winning games," said the Wayne State product.

"The one thing about these guys, even if you weren't drafted, if you came here to work, when you put on the Red and White they welcomed us with open arms."

The season set to open tomorrow against the Montreal Alouettes, Black is listed as backup middle linebacker to Tray Blackmon.

But being a Canadian and the Stamps dealing with ratio issues, it appears Black will get plenty of time on the field in different formations.

Not a bad way to start, said the 25-year-old.

"It's an 18-game season," Black said. "It's long. There isn't a big roster here. I could be playing anywhere by the end of the season. All of us have to learn more than one position. That's what makes us flexible. We're always learning more than one thing at once."

After camp broke and he made the roster, Black switched from No. 95 to a sleeker 47, although he wanted 51 and was denied (it was Hall-of-Famer Alondra Johnson's at one point).

"This is more of a linebacker number," Black said about 47. "I took the monster trucks off and put on the 10-speeds."

Black spent the past few years at college in Detroit, where the NFL's Lions went winless last year. Wayne State had a winning season (8-3) and became stars in that town.

"When you start winning, suddenly you find $20 bills on the ground, money you lost a while ago comes back," Black said. "You start getting A's. Things start going your way for some reason.

"It's all good when you win. Girls that wouldn't talk to you before start calling you."


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