Once again, we direct your attention north of the border. In the past few months, we have told you about Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, and coming soon, Julian Miller in the CFL. Now, the Mountaineer who got the migration going is about to step out into the spotlight for the first time this season.
Avon Cobourne, the Mountaineers’ all-time leading rusher, played for the Montreal Alouettes from 2006-10 and led the team to the Grey Cup twice. Two seasons ago, Cobourne became a free-agent, and the Als decided to go with a younger running back, Brandon Whitaker, who is now injured.
Cobourne went on to sign with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and had a nice season in 2011 before the team decided not to re-sign him. The 33-year-old Cobourne was yet again a victim to the youth movement when the Ticats decided to give Martell Mallett a shot as the starter. Cobourne went home to Florida where he took up selling insurance.
During the opening week of training camp, Mallett tore his ACL and is out for the season. The Ticats quickly called Cobourne, and he agreed to re-sign with the team. Behind Mallett, the Ticats had another young running back they wanted to give the ball to in Chevon Walker. For the team, that was a great decision as Walker leads the CFL in rushing this season.
It was bad for Cobourne because that meant he came in as a backup and spent some time on the scout team. He stayed positive and didn’t let his new role get him down. Whatever the coaching staff asked him to do, he did so.
Cobourne has not been active all season, but he is expected to start for Hamilton when they face Cobourne’s old team, the Montreal Alouettes. Noel Devine is on the Als injured list.
Chevon Walker is nursing a “lower body injury” and Cobourne has stepped in and raised the intensity of Ticats practice this week.
“It was fiery,” Cobourne said. “The guys were really animated. Maybe they were excited because I’m playing, but I don’t think so. Guys were flying around and it was fast-paced.”
Cobourne is happy to be back, and last season when he went up against Montreal, he treated those games as special. Revenge games. After standing on the sidelines thus far this season, the opponent isn’t important. Even if it is Montreal.
“I’m just happy to play against anybody,” Cobourne said. “I’ve always said if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. I’ve been preparing myself for this and I’ll be all right.”
Hamilton plays at Montreal on Thursday April, 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET.