Being a full-time special teams player is never easy. Not only is it hard work, but those who excel on teams don’t get the same recognition that stars on offence and defence receive. It’s only natural that when most guys go from being special teamers to impact players on offence or defence, they typically want to get away from that less glamorous facet of the game. But Alouettes linebacker Tyrice Beverette isn’t like most players.
Even though he got a healthy raise on the contract he signed with the Als on Wednesday, Beverette wants to continue to contribute on special teams in 2023.
“I’m never going to change,” he said from his home in Long Island, New York. “I’m a football player at the end of the day. Playing special teams is part of football and that’s what I love to do. I’m a hard-nosed kind of guy, I’m a physical guy, and (playing on special teams) is fun to me.”
Prior to joining the Als last winter, Beverette spent the first two years of his CFL career with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He wanted to play on defence, but he was one of the more productive players on special teams and he served as a backup to Hamilton’s long-time starting weak-side linebacker.
The 27-year-old loved contributing on special teams, but he felt like it was time to move on to a team that would give him a shot on defence, too.
“Playing special teams is cool for me, but I have always been a guy that has wanted to do extra to help the team out,” Beverette, who first on the Als in special teams tackles and second in the league with 21 last season, said. “I wanted to do anything possible in my ability to be able to help my teammates. I didn’t feel I could do that by only playing on special teams.”
After starting the season mostly on special teams, the door opened for Beverette when he filled in for injured starters like Adarius Pickett and Chris Ackie. Those openings combined with the arrival of defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe in July, helped him get on the field more often. In Thorpe’s system, the 27-year-old felt like he could be himself.
“Coach Thorpe lets his guys play,” Beverette said. “His style is the way I love to play. He wants us to be fast and physical. This is one of the first coaches I have ever had since college that let me play the way I play and let me be comfortable out there on the field. Everything about it felt right. I also feel like I can play linebacker and safety, and he also let me show that.”
Once everything clicked, he became a fixture on defence. Beverette ended up being the only player in the CFL to finish with more than 70 defensive tackles (77) and at least 20 special teams tackles (21). The only other player with comparable numbers was Roughriders defensive back Rolan Milligan, who had 68 defensive tackles and 11 on special teams. Beverette was in a category of his own.
Not only did the Als linebacker make several game-changing plays during the regular season, he also put together an impressive performance in the playoffs. He finished with three defensive tackles, a special teams tackle, and two forced fumbles during a 28-17 win over his former team, the Ticats.
“(That win) meant a lot,” he admitted. “Just coming from Hamilton after two years, I knew a lot of the guys there. It meant a lot to be able to send my friends home.
“For some reason, every time we played Hamilton this year, I felt like I was on my A-game. Maybe that’s due to the fact that I wanted to show them that I’m a defensive player, too.”
For the first time in his pro career, he’ll go into a season as one of the primary stars on the team. Beverette isn’t worried about that, or the number of snaps he’s going to have to play on defence and special teams combined. All he wants to do is help his team win. That’s the focus.
“I’m just a humble type of dude,” he added near the end of the interview. “I’m a hard-working dude. I put my head down. A lot of guys, when they get to a certain point and to a certain status, they get this (relaxed) mindset. I don’t want to be that way. No matter how big my status is, special teams is part of football. If I want to help my team win, that’s the type of stuff that I have to do. You have to be different.”