VANCOUVER — After a breakout 2012 campaign, the BC Lions rewarded linebacker Adam Bighill with a contract extension on Tuesday.
After making his debut with the Leos in 2011, the Central Washington product knows now that he can continue to build on a stellar sophomore year without having to worry about potentially entering free agency a few years down the road.
“I have put a lot of hard work into my football career and now I know where I am going to be for the next two years for sure and I can put all of my effort, all of my focus and all of my work into making next year the best year it can be,” Bighill told reporters on Tuesday.
“It feels good to be wanted,” he said during a media availability at the team’s training facility. “It feels good to be a big part of the program moving forward. I’m excited to be in that position to make the future that much better.”
Bighill came to training camp No. 2 on the depth chart, but beat out James Yurichuk for the starting job.
He then continued to excel upon previous starter Solomon Elimimian’s return from the NFL in mid-season. Bighill led the Lions with 104 tackles, ranking second in the league, and earned the club’s nomination as outstanding defensive player in addition to a CFL all-star nod. He equaled the team record for tackles in a game (13) on Sept. 29 in Saskatchewan, earned defensive player of the week honours on four occasions and was defensive player of the month for October.
Lions Head Coach Mike Benevides praised Bighill, mentioning that the 24-year-old is the type of player that can – and likely will – help the Lions for years down the road.
“He’s a pro, he’s passionate about the game, he’s got an outstanding work ethic, he’s tremendously focused, and he’s the kind of guy you really want on your football team,” said Benevides.
“For me, I want to make sure that our team is full of guys like that. When you talk about a defence that was extremely strong, Adam was a centrepiece of that,” he added.
Benevides, who just finished his first year as the boss of the Lions sideline, was also quick to add that Bighill brings more to the table than just his on-field play.
“Adam is one of those stories that you really try and talk to the guys about. When he had the opportunity, he made it happen,” said Benevides.
“The reason I’m proud for him is because he’s such a passionate guy, he’s tough and he wants it.”
Lions General Manager Wally Buono, the man responsible for keeping Bighill in BC Orange for the foreseeable future, believes Bighill’s stellar play during the regular season was a major role in propelling the Lions defence to the top of several key statistical rankings.
“As we have done with a lot of our younger players, we gave him a bigger role,” said Buono.
“I think he made a huge impact on the best defence in the regular season in the CFL. When you look at reasons why the BC Lions defence was successful, Adam was definitely a big reason for that.”