A biblical approach

Wes Lysack leads some teammates through footwork drills Wednesday, June 1, 2005, during Blue...

Wes Lysack leads some teammates through footwork drills Wednesday, June 1, 2005, during Blue Bombers training camp. (Winnipeg Sun/Marcel Cretain)

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Wes Lysack was about nine years old when he had to make his first big football decision: should he play offence or defence?

His dad had an interesting way of giving him some advice.

"Let's make it biblical -- it is much better to give than to receive," Gregg Lysack recalls telling his son. "And he's been smacking people ever since."

Good thing dad skipped past the chapter about the meek inheriting the Earth.

Then again, his kid might not have listened, anyway. If there's one thing Wes Lysack has, it's self-confidence.

A couple of weeks back, I heard him on one of the university radio stations, talking about the kind of year he expected to have at safety for the Blue Bombers.

Just to make sure I heard it right, I asked him about it at training camp this week.

"I expect to be considered the top safety in the CFL," Lysack said. "Absolutely. No questions asked."

Wait a minute -- this is a Canadian talking, a Winnipegger, no less. Aren't we supposed to be the mild, self-deprecating type?

It turns out Lysack has been operating on this three-year plan, ever since he was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders as a U of M Bison in 2003.

"My goal going into that camp my rookie year was to be the No. 1 safety on that team," Lysack said. "Year 2, I wanted to be the No. 1 safety in the West. And then by Year 3, I wanted to be the No. 1 safety in the CFL. So I'm batting two for two right now."

Next man to beat out: Toronto's Orlondo Steinauer, the all-CFL safety three years running.

PREDICTING GREAT THINGS

The thing is, people have been predicting great things for Lysack for years.

Bisons head coach Brian Dobie called him one of the best players to come out of the province in a long time.

Jay Blasko, Lysack's coach with the junior St. Vital Mustangs, went so far as to say he was probably the best player he'd ever seen.

Good enough to earn a scholarship worth $25,000 to Rutgers University, a Div. 1 college in the States, in 2000 -- unheard of for a Manitoban.

The U.S. college door, though, was slammed in his face after just one year, when Rutgers cleaned out its coaching staff.

Devastated, Lysack took a year off to reload, then joined the Bisons.

How he handled the setback is best shown by a talk he gave at a Calgary high school while he was still with the Stamps.

Lysack told the students how most people say that when one door closes, another opens. His philosophy: break the damn door down.

MY BIGGEST CRITIC, FAN

"I'm my biggest critic, and I'm also my biggest fan," Lysack said. "That's how I am. It's really not cocky. Most people who know me know I'm not cocky. I put more pressure on myself than anyone else. I set pretty high standards for myself."

The Bombers, who acquired Lysack in the Khari Jones trade late last season, figure to be the beneficiaries.

This team hasn't had the CFL's all-star safety since Bennie Thompson in 1988. Heck, it hasn't had a single all-Canadian in the secondary in 10 of the last 11 years.

The two things head coach Jim Daley wants from his safety -- leadership and big hits -- seem to fit Lysack to a tee.

"A defence that has a safety that's physical has a special character to it," Daley said. "And that's what we want."

As for the leadership, fellow Stamp-turned-Bomber Joe Fleming sees that coming out this year, too.

"Three years into the league you start to establish yourself, be a little bit more vocal and announce your presence," Fleming said. "He has the talent to do that."

As for the announcement, Lysack's already made it.

The next step: to make his presence felt.

After all, he learned long ago it's better to give.

He plans to make it awfully hard for anyone trying to receive.


Videos

Photos