Stephenson nears Lumsden's record

This week's CIS article is on Windsor running back Daryl Stephenson, who is now just 167 yards from Jesse Lumsden's OUA career rushing record and approaching the CIS record:
With five games remaining this season, Stephenson needs 767 yards to better Dominic Zagari's CIS-record career rushing total of 4,738 yards – a number well within striking distance for a player who averaged more than 150 yards a game his first three seasons.

Should he return for a fifth and final campaign next season, Stephenson could end up in a league of his own.
I had the chance to chat with Stephenson and Lancers coach Mike Morencie this weekend, just before they were shockingly upset by the Waterloo Warriors, and what follows are excerpts from the interviews.

Daryl Stephenson

On breaking Lumsden's record: "Coming into the league, [the record was] not something I had my sights on. Just coming in, I was more worried about starting and trying to help the team, but I guess now that they're closing in, it's something that you think about. I want it not just for me but for all of the guys that have been here, and working hard for it. I can tell that they all really want it as well."

Stephenson on Lumsden: "I've seen him play a couple times and I was always impressed with him. To be mentioned like that, and have people say that I'm comparable to him is awesome for me. He's been someone that I've looked up to since I've been in the league, and everything he's done, now, is just paving a way and I'm happy to be compared to him."

Stephenson on whether he'll return or not: "That's still kind of up in the air. It's going to have to come down to, you know, what my future options would be, with football or school or anything like that. I don't want to go out and play football and have to come back, you know, four years later and try to finish up school – I'd rather get it all done in one shot."

On the CFL draft: "I'm going to be nervous for it obviously. Also, with that, I'll be having the same decision about whether I'll be coming back [to Windsor] or not. I don't know how that's going to weigh in. I hope it turns out well."

Stephenson's goals at Windsor: "I've never won a championship in football before; since I've been here, I've never even won a playoff game, so I mean, the thing that would make me happy was if we won a championship. Last year, we won a big game over Laurier and that was the best feeling I've had playing football."

On his latest injury that has limited him in recent games: "I got a little bit of a hip pointer, so [Saturday against Waterloo] I won't be 100 per cent, but I'm going to try and go. It's gotten a lot better since last week; it's just like a deep bruise on my hip, so I don't think it's anything serious."

On picking Windsor over Western: "I've been going to Mustang game since I was like seven years old, my dad went there and stuff. I was definitely pretty close to them, but I think my fit down here was better. What they needed, they needed a running back at the time, and Western really didn't."

On training with former CIS star Eric Lapointe during spring training: "It was a great experience for me, and he's made me a lot better. He's told me a lot of things that will help me go on with the CFL and leagues like that that I wouldn't have known if he didn't come down, things like being more aggressive blocking, and things that aren't just me going out there and running. He didn't comment anything on how I ran the football; he more told me that I have to be a better blocker and a better catcher, because that's what the CFL's going to look at me as. He said that's where it is, if you can block and you can catch, then you can play in the CFL, but if you can't, then you're just another guy."

Windsor coach Mike Morencie

On Stephenson returning for a fifth season: "I really feel he will, I think he wants to take a run at some of this stuff. Records aren't a high priority for him but I think like anything else, you know, hey he's aware of these things, that's for sure. If he can take a run at some of these records, the all-time CIS record, and Jesse Lumsden's record, those would be neat feathers in his cap."

On his chances in the CFL draft: "I think he'll get drafted, he's got the size and the speed and everything they're looking for – he runs a 4.4 40 at 230 pounds, he could play at 240 and still maintain that speed if he wanted to. That's a big, big body that moves very fast. He's really improved his pass-catch abilities, his pass protection is way better than what it was when he was a freshman."

Comparing Lumsden and Stephenson: "They're both big backs that can run, they're both powerful and speedy ... when people see Daryl run for the first time, they say, 'wow, that's pretty fast for a big guy.' He's nearly fullback size and he runs like a guy who could be 5-foot-9, 170 pounds."

Windsor back running up the rushing ladder (The Globe and Mail)
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