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August 20, 2017

Bisons Camp | The Clarkson Brothers

As an offensive lineman, developing a chemistry with your fellow ‘hoggies’ is an absolute must both on and off the field.

Developing that chemistry, that ability to work together, is something the Clarksons – younger brother Matt (67) and older brother Tom (71) – have never had to worry about.

“It’s always good,” began Matt. “(Tom’s) got lots of experience and he’s someone who can kind of tell you to your face what you’re doing wrong, without being as aggressive about it.”

The Clarksons hail from Mission, B.C., and Tom began playing football at age eight. He was originally recruited by Bisons head coach Brian Dobie out of high school in 2012, but instead opted to accept a full-ride scholarship offer from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“It (UNLV) was a great experience,” said Tom. “I was fortunate enough to get my degree down there, which was great. It was great football, too.”

Matt’s football journey began later, as he didn’t strap on the pads for the first time until he was 15.

“I just wasn’t interested in it at first,” said Matt (67, above, with his brother Tom). “I wanted to play basketball and other sports, but when I was 15, I just decided I wanted to play and my parents fully supported me in that.”

It didn’t take long for Matt to grasp the game. Just a few years after starting his pursuit as an offensive lineman, he was on his way to the prairies after getting recruited by Dobie for the 2014 season. He credits his older brother for some of his growth as a player in high school, specifically with certain blocking approaches.

“I’ve learned a ton from him,” said Matt. “My last couple years of high school he was at UNLV so he was able to come and give me pointers on different techniques to use, and I needed to learn a lot for pass protection coming out of high school. So Tom was a huge part of helping me with that.”

The duo were reunited last season, as Tom completed his degree down south and still had two years of eligibility left to play for Manitoba. Unfortunately, the elder brother went down with an injury and the pair were unable to take to the field together in regular season action.

With an experienced Tom fully healthy again, and Matt being praised as “one of the most improved players regardless of position,” by Dobie, it seems that fate might play into their hands to finally start together at the university level in 2017.

Despite losing Geoff Gray to the Green Bay Packers, Manitoba returns a handful of fellow veterans such as Reid McMorris, Anthony Daley and Zack Williams to bolster a unit that’s always amongst the best in the country.

And if they can develop that ‘hoggie’ chemistry quickly, these O-line brothers – some by birth, others brothers in arms in the trenches – could be key to the Bisons offence this season.

“As an offensive lineman, you’re always trying to work together,” said Tom, “and that’s whether it’s your brother or not.”