July 9, 2024

“This is the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been a pro”

Blue Bombers cornerback Terrell Bonds -- photos by Cameron Bartlett

It came from a friend, and it was both sound and wise advice. Terrell Bonds realizes that now, even if it took awhile for the meaningful words from Deatrick Nichols to sink in fully.

“I’m so glad I came here,” said the Winnipeg Blue Bombers first-year cornerback in a chat with this week. “I actually came to that after just a couple weeks of camp. I told Deatrick, ‘I should have come up here a couple years ago when you told me to come.’

“To be honest, while our record doesn’t show it, this is the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been a pro, whether that’s NFL, XFL, wherever else I’ve been. These guys gave me an opportunity and there wasn’t any politics about the decision of whether I would make the roster. It’s best man wins and I earned my spot. It was just about how you played and how consistent you are.”

A Miami, Fla. product, Bonds has been playing football with Nichols since the two were kids, then through high school. That’s when their football paths took different routes, with Bonds played his college ball at Tennessee State and Nichols at South Florida.

Bonds signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 — by then Nichols had already found a place in the Blue Bombers secondary — and then bounced around to the Pittsburgh Maulers in the USFL and then the San Antonio Brahmas in the XFL last season.

And the sound advice from Nichols hit home when he signed with the Blue Bombers this spring and got settled into Winnipeg by making the club and the starting roster after camp.

It’s simple: be happy where you’re at.

“And I’m happy here. I actually learned that from him,” Bonds explained. “When he came back home (to Miami) I’d ask him about his goal, was it to go back (to the NFL)? And he always said, ‘Nah, I’m here.’ He always said, ‘Be where your feet are at. Whatever your opportunity is, whatever league you’re in, be there. Be in the moment. Don’t think about where you should be.’

“That’s what I’ve been doing — I’ve been in the moment enjoying all of this with my teammates and coaches. It’s been a lot of fun. You can have goals and aspirations, but at the end of the day, again, you’ve got to be where your feet are, be in the moment. Attack the day and that’s what I’ve done every days since I’ve been here. I’m trying to lock in and be the best I can be every day.”

“That’s excellent advice and I’m happy to hear they look at things that way,” said defensive coordinator Jordan Younger of Bonds and Nichols. “It’s easy, it’s human nature, to look beyond where you’re at and wish you were in a better situation — whatever ‘better’ means for each person.

“To see he has a sense of joy from playing here, a sense of contentment, that gives us a good foundation to build off because it means we’ve got good people who like being here and it makes growing and evolving easier.”

Bonds picked off his first pass in last week’s win over Ottawa, a critical interception on the first play of the fourth quarter. Now five games into his CFL career, his comfort level in the Canadian game and Younger’s offence is becoming more obvious with each snap.

“It comes with having that veteran presence around me, especially in the back end with Brandon Alexander and Deatrick, having Biggie (Adam Bighill) in the middle and having Coach JY,” said Bonds. “Having those guys out there with that much experience makes me feel comfortable and we communicate at a high level. It’s been pretty good so far, but still have a ways to go.

“When you know what you’re doing during the week when you go over the plays, over the coverages, that gives you confidence going into the game. It’s all about how you prepare. I like to study my opponent and that carries from game to game.”

Bonds and Tyrell Ford on the other corner have been solid to start the season and with Nichols and Evan Holm at halfback, Alexander at safety and Redha Kramdi at the dime spot, the Blue Bombers believe they have the pieces to be a solid secondary.

“There’s a comfort level. Some DBs play nervous and look nervous,” said Younger. “Not everybody defines that in the same way but the DBs who look comfortable, play like they look like they belong out there and a lot of us define that as swagger.”

‘CASH-TILLO’: Sergio Castillo earned a spot on the CFL’s Pro Football Focus Week 5 Honour Roll after connecting on all six of his field-goal attempts last week, including a pair of 53 yarders.

“I’ve had quite a five-for-five (games), but six-for-six is the most I’ve attempted and made in my career so far,” said Castillo after practice Tuesday.

Castillo, for the record is now 12-for-12 since Week 1 and the whole microchips in the footballs mini-controversy.

“My main focus is just to go one-for-one, trying to get these points for the team,” said Castillo. “But, yeah, there was a little bit of (told you so) that, but the main thing is we’re done with that.

“Ever since we’ve gone back to these footballs I feel confident going out for any field goal. Even for a PAT (convert) I didn’t know where the ball was going. Now if I miss it I know it’s on me because of bad technique or whatever.”

FYI, Blue Bombers Hall of Famer Justin Medlock was nicknamed ‘Money’ for his work during his CFL career and that prompted some money-related moniker’s being trotted out for Castillo. CJOB’s Greg Mackling suggested Castillo be nicknamed ‘Dinero’ — money in Spanish — and Blue Bombers Senior Manager of Digital Media Sam Calvert pegged him as ‘Cash-tillo.’

Both nicknames were floated to Castillo and, for the record, he gave the nod to ‘Cash-tillo.’