April 16, 2020

Q+A With Dwayne Cameron

He’s one of the newest members of the coaching staff.

Dwayne Cameron, who’s not a stranger to the Stampeders organization, replaces the recently departed JC Sherritt as the team’s Linebackers Coach.

We spent some time chatting with him, as he works with the rest of the coaching and management staff to prepare for the CFL draft and the upcoming season.

Q: Prior to becoming the team’s linebackers coach, how were you connected with the Stampeders organization?

A: I began scouting with the organization in 2016 and my responsibilities, from a CFL Draft perspective, were to provide evaluation on Ontario-based players as I was coaching at the University of Laurier at the time. I had great up-close access to a lot of those players, I recruited a lot of those players – some successfully, some unsuccessfully – but I had known a lot of them since they were in high school. That gave me a unique insight and background into some players that the organization may otherwise not get. I was also doing some NFL pro scouting for the team with Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. So I would go into their training camps and look at potential players for future reference.

My initial connection with the organization was Brent Monson. We’ve known each other for years, so it’s been fantastic to work with him and then get to know everybody else throughout the organization. I had worked previously in the CFL in 2010-11 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so when I had the opportunity to come here for four years as a guest coach in training camp, my eyes were really opened as to what an elite CFL organization looks like and operates like. I firmly believe that this is the best organization in the CFL.

It’s been great for me. I’m really big on professional development for my own personal growth and to be exposed to these coaches and to Huff in the GM role, it’s been fantastic for me.

Q: When were you approached about the linebackers coach position?

A: I was just working on the draft and then a few days before Christmas, my phone rang and I saw that Dave Dickenson was calling. I thought maybe he was calling to say Merry Christmas or that kind of thing. That’s when he mentioned that JC was leaving and that’s where the process all started.

Q: When you were offered the job, how was the decision making process?

A: I’ll put it to you this way – saying yes to Dave and having the opportunity to work with everyone in the organization, that was easy. Saying goodbye to Laurier, where I’ve spent 13 of my 15 years of coaching, that was difficult. I’m very loyal, so that part was hard. But saying yes to Dave, saying yes to Huff, knowing I would be able to work with Brent Monson on a full-time basis, I was incredibly excited by that opportunity.

To be honest, without all of my connections here, I’m not sure I would have left Laurier. My four years here afforded me the opportunity to get to know everyone and have trust in where I would be stepping into. That goes back into what I said earlier about them having a first-class organization. Part of it is trust; trusting the situation you’re stepping into and I certainly do 100 percent.

Q: How has the long-distance work due to COVID-19 made your first off-season as a coach?

A: Well it’s certainly different and that’s coupled with the fact that it’s my first year sitting in and being a part of these meetings, so it’s made it doubly difficult. At the same time, because it is my first year, I didn’t know it any other way. So I think it’s presented some challenges; we’ve been able to deal with chaos early and quickly. Going forward, it’s just another opportunity for me to grow from. In terms of how difficult it is, I don’t really find it that bad. There’s enough work to keep you busy, so whether you’re doing it in your office or you’re home office, the work gets done. From a day-to-day standpoint, besides the fact that I can’t walk down the hall to talk to Brent, Huff, Dave, or Brendan, they’re all just a text or a call away.

Q: Without the CFL Combine, is it tougher to evaluate draft prospects?

A: I certainly think the challenge is greater without a scouting combine. The combine doesn’t change your opinion on somebody, but it gives you the opportunity to re-inforce kind of what you’re already thinking and answer some final questions. Of course, we still have the interviews, which we’re conducting over video conferences now, but you don’t get quite the same connection with the person as when you’re in the same room. For some of the players, specifically the guys that were playing in the US, the combine sometimes is the first opportunity to see them face-to-face, so we miss out on that. But the reality is that every team is dealing with the same thing, so it’s not like we’re at some kind of competitive disadvantage.

Q: With virtual interviews still a possibility, how important has that been as you make final assessments on players?

A: At the end of the day, we’re all people and a big part of success is relationships. You get a brief window, but you get a window into who that individual is. You get to ask them some specific questions, sometimes it’s maybe challenging them about something you saw on film or it could just be getting to know a bit more about their background and understanding what’s shaped them into the person that they are. It’s certainly a great piece to have.

Q: How has having the first-overall pick impacted your CFL Draft preparation?

A: Well, it’s different, that’s for sure. Being a part of it for the first time, it’s unique, it’s exciting, and at the same time it’s a challenging situation, so it’s something I’m very excited about.