Brandon Smith has completed a huge hurdle in his long but uncelebrated comeback.
While the Calgary Stampeders have a bigger name recovering from a torn ACL (Ken-Yon Rambo), Smith’s return is no less remarkable.
And when Stamps head coach John Hufnagel made his final roster moves yesterday, Smith was still on the active roster, and he’s the lone man at his position.
Barring a setback, the 25-year-old will be in the starting lineup on Canada Day when the Stamps face the Toronto Argonauts.
“I’m exactly where I want to be,” said Smith. “I wanted to be able to come back and be able to play during camp, play during the first game.
“That’s what my motivation was. I missed the first game last year — I expect to be playing this game.”
It was in the pre-season a year ago that Smith’s promising career hit a snag.
While making a tackle against the B.C. Lions, Smith got twisted in a pile and stayed down.
It took several weeks before the swelling went down enough to properly diagnose the problem.
Once it became clear rehab wasn’t going to fix the torn ACL, the Oakland native had surgery, ending his season.
Rambo suffered his injury in Week 4 — also against the Lions — and the receiver is still a ways back in his recovery.
But the Stamps hope they are getting a boost to their defence with the return of Smith, who had a great rookie season in 2008 playing the difficult halfback spot.
Right now, Smith is ready to go, despite a minor groin injury that kept him out of practice last week. The knee is fine.
“The only thing I don’t like is when I’m actually training in the off-season, because you feel every nook and cranny when you’re training for it,” Smith said.
“Just being out here and being able to play football, once the competition effect takes place, you just completely forget about it.
“I don’t think about my knee. I’ve got the mindset I was never hurt. I’m just going out there competing, challenging guys, running with guys.”