May 12, 2024

“I have a burning desire to finish the mission.”

2024 BC Lions Training Camp on Sunday, May 12. Steven Chang/BC Lions

Kamloops- It was a picture-perfect backdrop to the opening of 2024 BC Lions Training Camp. Clear skies, slight breezes plus a handful of excited orange and black-clad Lion supporters in the Hillside Stadium stands. A mere 184 days after their Grey Cup dreams came to an end in another Western Final at Winnipeg, the thrill of the championship chase is back on.

And while the obvious storyline heading into the franchise’s historic 70th season will be the chance to play and win the big game in front of our home fans, players and coaches will approach it with the same mindset: every year is a good year to finish on top of Mount CFL. More on that in a moment. This year’s camp grind began with a 75-minute “teach tempo” practice, with emphasis on each unit taking time to install various plays and schemes. Jevon Cottoy viewed it as a perfect start to the 18-day marathon in the tournament capital.

“Man, it didn’t feel like a walkthrough based on how much I’m sweating,” Cottoy chuckled after the Sunday morning workout.

“All that sprinting today has me in mid-season mode. Walkthrough is really good for the mind and also the body. Coach Rick does a really good job of taking care of us day in and day out.”

Feeling in mid-season form is a brilliant way to start things off. Yet Cottoy and all the veterans understand the grind for what it is. One thing is also clear. Just knocking on the Grey Cup door won’t be good enough anymore.

“It’s been on my mind all off-season,” Cottoy added.

“We’re beyond excited to chase what we didn’t accomplish the last two years.”

“I have a burning desire in my heart and my chest that I want to get back to where we were last year and, this time, finish the mission.”

Should these Lions take that next step, Cottoy and this receiving corps. will have to play their part. Five years after he attended his first training camp as a non-territorial exemption with the Langley Rams, Cottoy is scratching the surface of CFL stardom. A few league and Lions pundits have him pegged for a first 1,000-yard season, something that would be very welcomed given the departures of Lucky Whitehead and Dom Rhymes and the likelihood of Keon Hatcher starting this season on the six-game injured list.

“I really appreciate the trust this organization has put on me to step into a bigger role,” Cottoy explained.

“Seeing younger guys here like Travis Fulgham and Ayden Eberhardt to compliment some of the other new guys here as first time Lions, it gets you pumped up. Being in my fifth camp, I understand how exciting and nerve racking it can be. As a new guy, you’re trying to be perfect every day.”

With the Training Camp grind underway in Kamloops, BC Lion players and coaches understand what's at stake in 2024.

With training camp consisting of the usual practice time, multiple daily meetings and film sessions, veterans and newcomers alike know they have to embrace the day-by-day, one play at a time mindset and not get too ahead of themselves, as much as they all know what the end goal is. To use the age old cliche: trust the process.

“100 percent. One play at a time, whether it’s a good play or a bad play,” Cottoy said.

“Guys are dialled in and locked in throughout the off-season. Continuity is really important with the coaching staff and players, all personnel from top to bottom. We just have to take advantage of that in the limited time we have together in camp and make sure we’re on top of things every single day, while cashing in on the daily deposits. It doesn’t matter if it’s catching the ball, blocking, knowing our assignments or preparing to have someone step up in case of an injury, we have to stay ahead of the game. The guys know we have to get better as a group and not just for ourselves.”

And did we mention it’s still beautiful in Kamloops? Buckle up. It should be one of the more exciting and interesting camps in recent memory.

Day 1 Notes

You can only take so much away from an ‘install’ type practice, but a few early observations from Hillside Stadium: Christian Covington has come as advertised and got some work in with the starting defence. The NFL veteran and pride of Vancouver College was very communicative with his new teammates throughout the morning session.

Outside of Fulgham and the returnee Eberhardt, Jeff Cotton (pictured above) and Ed Lee are a pair of young  American receivers to keep your eye on. On the National side, 2024 draft pick Ezechiel Tieide is looking to build off a solid rookie camp performance.

Specialists Sean Whyte and Riley Pickett both looked to have reaped the benefits of their off-season training programs. Pickett was joined by new signee Kyle Nelson in the long snapping drills. The son of long-time CFL coach Mark Nelson brings a decade of NFL experience of his own, including an appearance in Super Bowl LIV with the San Francisco 49ers in February 2020.

Monday morning’s non-padded practice will be ramped up from 8:30-10:00 am at Hillside Stadium. Follow all of our training camp content HERE.