Newcomer Brandon Barlow makes sudden impact along Argonauts’ defensive line


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An articulate young man who extracted all he could during his extended run at Boston College, defensive lineman Brandon Barlow is making the most of his opportunity as an Argo.

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A bit player when he first joined the club, Barlow’s presence was felt last week when the Argos dominated the second half en route to a 17-point win over the Ticats.

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Barlow is 24 years old, a native of Albany, N.Y., who would spend six years with the BC Eagles.

A red-shirt his freshman year, Barlow played up until his fifth year at Boston and then received an extra season because of COVID.

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“I had a lot of film stacked up,’’ he joked.

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Barlow is quick off the ball, plays with a motor and is athletic. His progression and production arrives at a time when the Argos are missing star rush end Ja’Gared Davis, who is dealing with a knee injury.

Davis is the unit’s most accomplished player, a five-year veteran who has appeared in five Grey Cups, including the past two when he anchored the Ticats defence.

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He’ll be back, but in the meantime it’s been up to players such as Barlow, Shane Ray, Shawn Oakman, DeWayne Hendrix — all Americans — along with Canadians Robbie Smith and Sam Acheampong to make plays.
Ray’s late strip last Friday against the Ticats led to Acheampong securing the football for his first pro fumble recovery.

There have been other moments of solid play, including a sack Barlow recorded and a key stop on third down.

For the game, he was credited with four defensive tackles and one special teams tackle.

“He made a difference last week,’’ said head coach Ryan Dinwiddie of Barlow.

The Argos were drawn to Barlow after watching of him.

And once he arrived in town, his high football IQ allowed him to quickly learn the nuances of three-down football.

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Everyone roots for young players such as Barlow to one day find the right team in the NFL.
For now, he’s appreciative of the shot provided by the Argos and knows it’s up to him to make the most of it.

He went undrafted down south, but did impress at his pro day, attracting the interest of the Kansas City Chiefs.
A three-day rookie mini- camp with the Chiefs provided Barlow a chance to make the team, but it wasn’t to be.

“I went out there and did my thing, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted,’’ admitted Barlow. “After that, the Argos started to hit me up during the summer. I was kind of biding my time between the NFL and CFL and ended up coming to the CFL.”

Following the Chiefs workout, Barlow headed home and began a training program involving weight training, defensive line play and speed conditioning.

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During his high school days, Barlow had a goal of playing NCAA football.

It was at the end of his sophomore career when BC began its scouting push.

The university’s persistence paid off when Barlow committed to the program following his junior year in high school.

Doug Flutie is a BC graduate whose CFL path began in Vancouver with the Lions.

Barlow got to meet Flutie when the former superstar QB visited the campus to address the Eagles players.

Admittedly, Barlow was not aware of Flutie’s CFL career at the time.

When he arrived in Toronto, Barlow began to realize the legacy Flutie left during his two-year run as an Argo, which featured two Grey Cup titles.

The only connections with Flutie to the current Argos setup are GM Michael Clemons and senior adviser Jim Barker. Barker helped hire Vince Magri, the team’s current assistant GM. It was Magri who reached out to Barlow, who still harbored dreams of hooking up with an NFL club.

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By his count, Barlow waited about a month. With the NFL pre-season approaching, Barlow contacted his agent.

“That’s when I decided to pull the trigger and come up to the CFL,’’ said Barlow.

He began to research the CFL from how the game is played to the game’s rules.

“I started watching Argos games,’’ he continued. “I began to get my head around the idea of going. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of the CFL before my arrival.”

Not surprisingly, learning how to play one yard off the line of scrimmage had to be honed.

Adjusting to three downs was another dimension that needed to be refined.

Barlow will experience his first Labour Day Classic in Hamilton and the first time he’ll line up in front of a sellout crowd.

Playing against ACC opponents provided the ideal backdrop when dealing with hostile environments, an experience that will serve Barlow well on Monday.

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He has dressed for two games as an Argo — both against the Ticats. And it was last week’s game against Hamilton when Barlow felt comfortable.

“Everything felt natural,’’ he said. “I was fully into the fire, communicating well with our linemen, who were helping me out as well as our coaches.

“It felt good, it felt natural, it felt that I belonged.”

He also got more reps and, as a result, Barlow was able to make plays.

No Argos D-lineman had more tackles than Barlow in the team’s 37-20 win.

However, none had a bigger impact than Ray, who ended the night with two sacks and one forced fumble.

In the back end, Jamal Peters had three interceptions, including a pick-six.

At linebacker, Wynton McManis recorded a game-high 11 tackles.

In other words, all three levels of Toronto’s defence played a role.

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