Transition no sweat for Claybrooks

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:16 AM ET

CALGARY - All the gain, without any of the pain.

As long as he can live vicariously through others.

DeVone Claybrooks loves being around football players and working on the fundamentals of the game.

The ice tub — where those overworked muscles need to be tended — is something he’s not a big fan of.

Claybrooks is enjoying being part of the Calgary Stampeders coaching staff under bench boss John Hufnagel, especially after a couple days with two practices.

He’s enjoying watching former teammates suffer through aches and pains and not being one of them.

“I don’t miss the soreness and I don’t miss coach Huf yelling at me,” Claybrooks said with a laugh. “Now, he yells at me because of somebody else.

“It’s a give and take but it’s the profession I chose. I just thank the Stampeders for giving me the opportunity.”

In recent years in the CFL, it’s not unusual for a veteran player to cross over and instantly become a coach.

In fact, it happened just a couple of years ago with the Stampeders when former QB Dave Dickenson joined the staff after retiring.

During the 2011 season, it wouldn’t be unusual to see Claybrooks teaching teammates some of his tricks after practice.

If Claybrooks wasn’t the affable, easy-going guy he appears to be, maybe it would seem strange to go from peer to authority figure. So far, Stamps defensive linemen are enjoying their new boss man.

“He’s the definition of a player’s coach, so for our defensive line, it works really well,” second-year Stampeders’ lineman Brian Bulcke said.

“We respect him so much given the fact we played with him and we know his track record.

“We’ve done a really good job of responding to him.

“He was our mentor. The thing is we played with him and it goes a long way.”

This isn’t the 34-year-old’s first coaching stint, however. For two seasons in NFL Europe, the defensive tackle was a playing coach.

He’s known for a while this would be his career path, and the Stamps offered the best landing spot.

For three years, he was part of a winning team and one of the key parts of the defence.

But now he isn’t the one going after the quarterback. He will have to let others do that.

“The best thing besides me getting a sack is someone doing a move I taught them, taking what I’ve coached them and being successful,” Claybrooks said. “That’s the most rewarding part of being a coach.”

If there is one benefit of being in the coaches room, it’s that the players have to listen to what Claybrooks says now, no matter what.

“I yelled last year and the year before and the year before that. So now, I can officially yell,” Claybrooks said with another laugh.

“Last year, they could look at me and say, ‘You aren’t the coach.’ Now, when I yell at them and they have to say, ‘OK, coach.’

“We’re friends off the field. I’m in a position where I’m their coach and they have to respect that position. We know, for us to be successful, it’s a give and take relationship. They know they have to make sure they are prepared and I have to trust they are prepared.”


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