It's been a record-setting rookie season for B.C. Lions linebacker Jordan Williams.
The six-foot, 232-pound Williams has registered 81 defensive tackles in 12 games this season. That breaks the Canadian rookie record of 75 set in 1993 by Mike O'Shea, the current head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
O'Shea established the mark with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Ticats obtained O'Shea, a native of North Bay, Ont., from the then Edmonton Eskimos (now Edmonton Elks), who'd selected the former Guelph Gryphon in the first round, fourth overall, in the 1993 CFL draft.
B.C. selected Williams first overall in the 2020 CFL draft but he's completing his first season with the Lions after the league didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The franchise secured the No. 1 selection in a trade with the Calgary Stampeders.
Williams is a native of Fayetteville, N.C., but was deemed a Canadian for the draft because his mother was born in Toronto. Williams initially had a free-agent workout with the Ottawa Redblacks in 2019 before learning of his Canadian eligibility and declaring for the 2020 draft.
Williams played collegiately at East Carolina University (2014-17). He appeared in 45 games, registering 252 total tackles, 23 being for a loss.
He also recorded three sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and a fumble recovery.
Williams enters CFL action this week second overall in tackles, two behind Ottawa's Avery Williams (83).
Only two true rookies have led the CFL in tackles. Linebacker George White had 105 tackles in 18 games with Saskatchewan in 2000 before Barrin Simpson set the league rookie record of 115 in 18 games with B.C. the following year.
No Canadian rookie has ever led the CFL in tackles since the league began keeping such statistics in 1987.
Williams and the Lions (4-8) host the Calgary Stampeders (6-6) on Friday night in a game that's crucial to both teams.
Calgary can clinch a West Division playoff berth with a win or tie and also eliminate B.C. from post-season contention. The Stampeders have won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Lions.
What's more, Calgary is coming off a bye week and is 14-2 following a week off since 2012.
B.C. comes in having lost six straight games, including a 39-10 home decision to Calgary on Oct. 16. But the Lions won the first meeting of the season 15-9 at McMahon Stadium on Aug. 12.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2021.
The Canadian Press