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His new team was on the receiving end of his first true breakout game as a pro. Flashback to the Eastern Semi-Final on November 16th, 2014 and Brandon Rutley, thrust into the starting tailback role when Tyrell Sutton went down with an ankle injury the week before, knew he had to make an impact. And boy, did he ever…. Rutley carried the ball 15 times for 95 yards in the 50-17 rout.
“You know what is funny about that day? I feel like it was my first game as a pro where I said to myself ‘yeah this could work,’” recalled Rutley from his offseason home in Santa Clara, California.
“I was behind Brandon Whitaker and Tyrell Sutton (on the depth chart) and didn’t play the entire season. It was more so just shadowing those two running backs throughout every practice and every game, just waiting for an opportunity.”
The ‘next man up’ philosophy can indeed prove to be beneficial to some teams in key situations. Rutley’s coming out party is just one of many examples.
“The funny thing is Chris Rainey was also there,” added Rutley.
“He got the opportunity to play in some games and then in the playoffs. I just prepared as best I could. When the opportunity came, it was one of those games where everything seemed to work perfectly. It was probably the most memorable game of my career.”
Speaking only a couple hours after his trade from those same Alouettes, the running back could not contain his excitement at the idea of playing closer to home on the west coast.
“Actually, in college they were the first team I heard was seeking me,” said Rutley of his new club.
“Being young and in college your goal is the NFL and you kind of overlook everything else. The first time I came out there in 2012 I just became infatuated with the dome and the arena. I thought it was a nice organization that looked really well and was run nicely. When the possibility came up it was a no brainer to be closer to home.”
Along with creating a nice battle for training camp, the move also provides some intriguing possibilities for a Lions’ backfield drink that is stirred by Jeremiah Johnson. One year after working in a tandem with Anthony Allen, Johnson carried the torch throughout 2017, missing only a late October victory in Winnipeg when the playoffs were out of reach and the club was looking to give some more touches to Rainey.
Should the offensive coaches decide to go down a similar route from 2016, Rutley gives them that option. For now, the 28-year old is just thrilled to get the chance to work with the energetic Johnson.
“That’s the awesome thing: I have been fortunate enough to learn from some outstanding running backs. I look forward to competing, learning and helping however I can,” explained Rutley.
“It started in 2012 with Avon Cobourne. I learned a lot about his physicality and mentality out there on the field. That’s something I adopted and put into my game. In Montreal I had the opportunity to play with Whitaker and learn about his finesse and smoothness as a receiver out of the backfield.
And then Sutton is one of the most physical backs I have ever seen. He was so sharp in the meeting rooms and a student of the game. A huge part of my game now is something that Stefan Logan taught me: how to prepare yourself. The guy is 36 years old and playing at a high level. I’m excited to come over to BC with all of those things I have learned and hopefully be able to showcase them, as well as help some of the young guys.”
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Rutleys family moved to the Bay Area when he was a young kid. He continues to make it his offseason home with his fiancée’ Michelle working in the technology hub as a recruiter for Facebook. The couple met at San Jose State where Rutley majored in both football and communications. Growing up, his first love was basketball.
“I didn’t get to the height I wanted, but I was a heck of a shooter,” laughed Rutley.
He majored in communications at San Jose State and plans to pursue that path once football is over. Being a vocal leadership figure in the locker room is certainly good practice for speaking in front of a room with key figures.
“I think I am really good at creating and cultivating an atmosphere of people and men, whether that be corporate or in the football world, it doesn’t matter,” said Rutley.
“I just want to be put in the position where I am helping people and communicating effectively. The job will be done correctly if you follow the blueprint. Individual success comes with team success, right?”
Talk about having the right mindset. Along with the chance to bring his experience and leadership to the locker room, Rutley feels he has a chance to win, something he hasn’t done much of the last couple of seasons.
“Montreal is in a rebuilding stage and hopefully they can get there,” claimed Rutley.
“I’m just excited to be a BC Lion in general. There is a great tradition there, great history there and I am going to try and help add some more.”
It won’t take long for him to see his old friends- the Alouettes are here to kickoff the regular season on June 16th, exactly 1,308 days after his big breakout game at the McGill University campus.