July 30, 2014

Dunk: LeFevour does a favour and finds a left tackle

Adam Gagnon

Hamilton may have found an answer at the left tackle position on the offensive line, thanks in large part to Dan LeFevour.

Let’s go back to 2009. LeFevour was in his senior season at Central Michigan University and redshirt freshman Jake Olson served as his blind side protector. The Chippewas put together an impressive season, winning the Mid American Conference Championship game and the GMAC Bowl on their way to a 12-2 season. LeFevour and Olson started 12 games together in 2009 with Olson missing two due to an ankle injury.

“I only got a chance to play one season with Dan at Central Michigan and I had a blast doing it. We’ve been good friends ever since,” the 6-foot-8, 315-pound lineman said.

After a productive career at Central Michigan LeFevour was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Bears. He was placed on waivers bye Chicago and Cincinnati claimed him and he spent the season as their reserve quarterback. After training camp in 2011 LeFevour was released by the Bengals and LeFevour joined the Colts practice roster before Jacksonville signed him to be their reserve pivot for the remainder of the year. On May 7, 2012 LeFevour was let go by the Jaguars and a less than a month later he signed with the Ticats.

LeFevour then spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons learning the nuances of the Canadian game and working his way towards getting on the field. He became the Ticats short yardage quarterback in 2013 and as that year wore on he earned playing time from Kent Austin who installed a package of plays in the Ticats offence specifically for LeFevour.

Meanwhile down at Central Michigan Olson was finishing up his university career, one filled with injury setbacks.

Just three games into the 2010 season he dislocated his right kneecap and was shelved for the year. In 2011 he missed three games with a shoulder injury. Two games into the 2012 campaign his right kneecap went on him again, season over. Then in the second game of his final season Olson felt a pop in his wrist, another surgery was required and it caused him to miss the reminder of the schedule. In total Olson missed 32 games due to injuries in his collegiate days.

With a lengthy medical report LeFevour felt Olson would be a bubble guy in the NFL, and the quarterback’s inclination was right. Olson attended the Detroit Lions rookie camp on a tryout basis and did not receive a contract offer after it was over. And after a brief stint with the Alouettes, Olson was a free agent looking for an opportunity.

LeFevour kept in close contact with Olson after their one season spent playing together at Central Michigan and the young pivot had been telling the Ticats football operations staff about Olson ever since his university career ended. LeFevour continued to push Olson to his head coach and general manager before the 2014 season opener.

“We were out in Saskatchewan the day before the game and I went up to Coach Austin and said ‘hey do you guys need a tackle?’ and he said ‘yeah’,” LeFevour explained. “I said you have to look at this guy Olson he’s just hanging out at home. He said alright.”

Hamilton did their due diligence on Olson and after the Ticats offensive line allowed a league-high 14 sacks in their first two games the team signed him on July 14 to try and help the struggles at tackle.

“That’s all me, all me,” LeFevour said with a big grin on his face. “I get 30 percent commission, I’m his agent.”   

“He jokes about being my agent. He keeps saying I gotta pay him too,” Olson said with a smile. “He really wanted to bring me up here and he kinda had some leeway with the coaches saying I know a good offensive tackle that can come up here.”

So as fate would have it Olson learned the offence quickly, helped by his old buddy and new agent LeFevour, and earned the chance to start his first CFL contest on July 26. It would be the same day LeFevour would enter a game as the starting quarterback since coming north of the border. If LeFevour felt more comfortable in his first professional start it had to be because he had a well-known protector on his blind side.

“I trust him. We’ve played in some big games, we’ve been through a lot together – we’ve been through freaking wars together,” LeFevour said about Olson. “I trust the guy with my life.”

Olson helped the Ticats offensive line turn in their best performance of the season in the team’s home opener against the Redblacks in Week 5. Hamilton’s big men up front allowed just a single sack – the Ticats had given up a league-high 17 sacks coming into their matchup with Ottawa – while providing LeFevour plenty of seconds in the pocket to work through his progressions properly or a lane to run when he pulled the ball down.

Largely because of the increased time afforded to him by his offensive line, LeFevour was able to put up some big numbers in his first career CFL start. The 27-year-old quarterback completed 21 of 30 passes for 361 yards, one touchdown, one interception and added 13 carries for 109 yards and a score on the ground. LeFevour accounted for 470 of the teams 558 total yards of offence in the Ticats 33-23 victory over Ottawa.

LeFevour turned in a performance he won’t soon forget alongside Olson, his hand-picked left tackle and close friend. A story and memory of career firsts both will fondly remember for years.