Shivers built Riders' linebacker corps
B.C.'s talent finder reaped a bumper crop of recruits in 2006 -- for Regina
Lowell Ullrich, The Province
Published: Friday, November 07, 2008
REGINA -- Roy Shivers said it was one of his best recruiting classes in years. Too bad for the Lions director of player personnel it was three seasons ago, and it was for the team they will face in the West Division semifinal.
As general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the straight-talking Shivers signed three linebackers in 2006 who have become jet fuel for their overall attack.
Outside backers Anton McKenzie and Sean Lucas are going to be a load for the Lions when they step on to the windswept tundra (1:30 p.m. TSN, Team 1040) to try to salvage their season Saturday.
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Font:****Middle man Maurice Lloyd is just a downright menace.
Together, the Saskatchewan trio, which hasn't even been intact all year due to injuries, have 238 tackles this season -- and if you want to compare, that's 65 more than the Lions' starting group of Javy Glatt, Otis Floyd and Jamall Johnson.
See how Saturday's game might be decided? See what Shivers did?
"Yes, that was one of those years you have every once in five or six," B.C.'s personnel man said somewhat sheepishly from his home in Las Vegas. "Usually you get one player that makes an impact, but never that many. At training camp that year we knew they were going to be special. That's the strength of their defence."
It'll be a success if the Lions can keep tailback Stefan Logan away from McKenzie, Lucas and Renauld Williams, who is also part of the Riders' rotation. But the Riders still have Lloyd, whose lateral speed is as good as any defender not named Cam Wake.
Lloyd's hit on Edmonton quarterback Ricky Ray was highlight-reel material. Buck Pierce of the Lions knows Lloyd the same way from a game this season. Truth be told, it seems every big hit on a B.C. quarterback the last three seasons has come from a Rider.
"He doesn't just spark their defence. He sparks their whole team," said Lions slotback Geroy Simon. "You can't let him and those guys go downhill."
And to think the smallish Lloyd went undrafted in the NFL out of Connecticut, where he played with Lions receiver O'Neil Wilson, because he was deemed at workouts to be too slow.
"A lot of people say I'm not that fast, but I know how to put myself in the right situation," said Lloyd, who breaks out into a grin when confirming his pending off-season free-agent status.
So the game Saturday becomes simple, in a way. B.C. must keep Pierce from meeting up with Lloyd and anyone else wearing green who ventures into the Lions backfield. Saskatchewan has a target on the pint-sized Logan.
"There's no other way to sugar-coat it, we've got to keep [Logan] contained," said Lloyd. "There's not many running backs I show respect to, but I do with that man. Everybody looks at him as short, but he plays like he's 6-1."
And Lloyd figures if he doesn't get to Logan, his fellow linebackers will.
"It's like Lego; one part can't be without the other," he said. "We had a plan to be the best linebacking corps in the league, and I think we've succeeded."
Just like Shivers had it planned, only three seasons too early. firstname.lastname@example.org