If there’s a player who deserves to be bitter about coronavirus postponing the 2020 CFL season, it’s Sean Thomas Erlington. Instead, the 27-year-old is eager to pick up where he left off.
The Montreal native exploded out of the gates with Hamilton in 2019, averaging 139 yards per game — a total of 224 rushing and another 193 through the air — in his first three contests.
To put his production in perspective, Thomas Erlington was on pace for 2,502 yards over a full season. That’s nearly 600 more than Andrew Harris’ 2019 total.
Thomas Erlington’s numbers likely would’ve simmered over the long CFL season, but last June was a solid indication that he and Harris would’ve been jawing at the top of the yards from scrimmage leaderboard throughout 2019.
“I had set myself an objective which was to try and get 1,000 rushing and receiving yards that year but it was obviously cut short,” said Thomas Erlington.
After the hot start, a left knee injury in Week 4 required season-ending surgery for the Canadian up-and-comer. It was Thomas Erlington’s first year as a starting running back in the CFL, but he was sidelined as his Tiger-Cats soared to the Grey Cup.
“I knew I had a chance of coming back [in 2019], but that chance wasn’t great,” said Thomas Erlington.
Sean Thomas Erlington’s Path to the CFL
Thomas Erlington joined his hometown Montréal Carbains in 2013, winning the Vanier Cup in his second of four university seasons. Over that period Thomas Erlington accumulated 1,948 yards on offence, with 543 of those yards (28%) coming as a pass-catcher.
“I think I’ve proven to be able to run, catch, and block,” said Thomas Elrington. “I think it’s an asset for coaches and I’m happy to be able to do all of that.”
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) November 11, 2018
An ankle sprain early on in his senior season led to Thomas Erlington’s lowest U Sports totals, but Hamilton remained interested in the 5’9 217 lbs. product. The Ti-Cats went on to steal Thomas Erlington with the 66th pick in the final round of the 2017 CFL draft.
“Being drafted that late or being drafted in the first or second round — to me it didn’t change much,” said Thomas Erlington. “I’m just here to play ball.”
Thomas Erlington’s Role on Hamilton
Over the past decade, running backs haven’t exactly thrived in Hamilton (DeAndra Cobb is the Tabbies’ last 1,000-yard rusher when he reached 1,173 yards in 2010).
Even C.J. Gable was arguably underused during his tenure with the black and gold. After all, in his final 21 games with Hamilton Gable never had a game with over 20 touches.
Tommy Condell’s offence ranked sixth in rushing attempts in his first season as Hamilton’s offensive coordinator. With a healthy Thomas Erlington, you can bet that ranking will rise.
“I want to be placed anywhere they need me to be,” said Thomas Erlington. “Slot receiver, a second running back, or a running back with the main job, I’ll be ready for that too.”
CAN’T. TOUCH. THIS. ?
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 30, 2018
The Next Andrew Harris?
When Thomas Erlington speaks about his dream of a 1,000 yard rushing-1,000 yard receiving CFL season, it’s hard not to draw a comparison to Andrew Harris. Both are dual-threat Canadians who had to claw for CFL special teams spots before starting on offence.
Thomas Erlington doesn’t see his running style as similar to Harris’, but admires the way the Winnipegger has been able to do it all on offence.
“I think it’s something that’s hard to do, and when it’s done I think people show a lot of appreciation,” said Thomas Erlington about being a Canadian running back.
The two have yet to meet, but that’s not to say there isn’t a shared comradery. After news broke of Thomas Erlington’s knee surgery, Harris messaged his fellow Canadain.
“He said to just keep doing what I do and have myself a good rehab and come back even stronger,” said Thomas Erlington.
Neither has hit the 1,000-1,000 feat, Harris’ closest bid coming in 2017 with 1,035 rushing yards and 857 receiving yards. Looking ahead, reaching that achievement may have passed for Harris, now 33 years old.
And so as he enters his prime football years, no player may have a better shot at the unique 2,000-yard CFL season than Sean Thomas Erlington.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images