B.C. Lions linebackers Lokombo, Williams both win CFL individual awards
Published December 10, 2021 at 9:29 pm
HAMILTON — Bo Lokombo and Jordan Williams gave B.C. fans something to celebrate Friday after a season that saw the Lions lose seven of their last eight games.
Lokombo beat out Montreal offensive lineman David Menard for the CFL’s outstanding Canadian award while linebacker Jordan Williams took outstanding rookie honours over Toronto offensive lineman Pater Nicastro.
The Lions won four of their first six games before going south, finishing fourth in the West at 5-9-0.
The 31-year-old Lokombo said he wrote a list of goals before the season.
“I wanted to win an individual award. I wanted to lead the team in such-and-such tackles, have sacks, have this many interceptions,” he said. “So those were individual goals that I felt I met most of them.
“And obviously there were team goals that we didn’t meet. And I feel like going into this next season, I know now I accomplished this. Now what are the new goals? What am I focusing on? And I know my next goal is to come back here in 2022, not to win an individual award but to win the Grey Cup, to be part of that. So I’m looking forward to that.”
He said he wants to add a Grey Cup ring to the sparkling one he was wearing from the 2011 BCS national championship game when his Oregon Ducks lost 22-19 to Auburn on a last-second field goal.
Lokombo’s victory was convincing, collecting 50 of a possible 54 first-place votes from members of the Football Reporters of Canada and the CFL head coaches.
His 66 tackles were five shy of his career-high despite the shortened 14-game season and ranked 10th in the league in his sixth season. The six-foot-two 225-pounder added 11 special teams tackles, tied a career high with four sacks and set a personal best with three interceptions.
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he moved to Quebec with his family when he was six before settling in Abbotsford, B.C.
Lokombo is the 10th Lion to be honoured as the league’s top Canadian and the first since Ricky Foley in 2019.
Williams was also a clear winner, collecting 46 of 54 first-place votes.
“I’m a man that always says hard work and dedication will always get you what you want and where you want in life,” he told the audience at the Hamilton Convention Centre. “I say never give up. Always believe in yourself and like I’ve always said you’ve got to speak it, you’ve got to believe it and you shall receive it.
“I say those affirmations before practices, before games. I say speak it, believe it, receive it, speak it, believe it, receive it. And I received this tonight,” he said, holding up his award. “Appreciate you all.”
The six-foot-two 232-pounder led the Lions with 92 tackles, second best in the league. He added five special teams tackles, two pass knockdowns, one sack, one fumble recovery and an interception.
The former East Carolina Pirate (2014-17) erased Mike O’Shea’s Canadian rookie record of 75 tackles, set in 1993.
The 27-year-old Williams recorded at least four tackles in all 14 regular-season games and had seven or more on eight occasions, topping out with 10 in Week 3.
Williams is the 14th Lion to be named top rookie and the first since Solomon Elimimian in 2010.
Hs road to pro football was a long one. After attending a San Francisco 49ers rookie mini-camp out of college, he went home and tried to figure our what was next.
A call from Ottawa in 2019 brought him north of the border where the Redblacks discovered that while Williams grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., his mother is from Toronto.
That put him in a situation where he could play in a pre-season game and forfeit his Canadian status in the league or go home and get his Canadian citizenship.
“I went home, took a year off and got a job, worked out — things of that nature. And then went to the CFL draft,” said Jordan who did recreational work with kids at the gym where he worked out “to try to get cheaper deals for membership, stuff like that, just enough to make ends meet.”
The Lions, with former Ottawa coach Rick Campbell at the helm, traded up in the 2020 draft, taking him first overall. The pandemic prompted another year of waiting and when he finally got to training camp in Kamloops, it was cut short because of nearby wildfires.
“It was a lot of trials and tribulations but we got through it. And look where I’m at now,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Pressinsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising