KAMLOOPS, B.C. — For linebacker Adam Konar, coming home to play for the B.C. Lions marks the start of a "new chapter."
The Lions announced Monday that they had signed the 25-year-old Vancouver native, just days after he was released by the Edmonton Eskimos.
"Pretty much as soon as the release happened, (B.C.) reached out and I had no question where I was going to go at that point," Konar said at Lions training camp in Kamloops, B.C. on Monday.
"Even before they contacted me, I knew where I wanted to go. And that was here. And that’s why I’m super happy to be here."
Drafted 25th overall by the Eskimos in 2015, Konar registered 21 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles, a sack and an interception in 11 games last season.
Now he’s among dozens of new faces to join the Lions over the off-season, but he isn’t the only athlete returning to his hometown.
Nine players at the team’s training camp hail from B.C., including free agents Sukh Chungh and Lemar Durant.
Durant, a wide receiver and Vancouver native, signed with the Lions in February after spending four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. Last year, he recorded two touchdowns and 33 receptions for 395 yards for the Grey Cup champions.
Chungh was picked second overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 2015 CFL draft, and played four years in Manitoba before coming to B.C.
The offensive lineman chose to join the Lions in free agency because he liked what the front office said about how he fit into the team’s future plans. The opportunity to play in front of friends and family didn’t hurt either, said Chungh, who’s from Port Coquitlam, just outside of Vancouver.
"The other part of it is that it’s your hometown team calling you to play. It’s a pretty exciting feeling," he said.
Returning to the Lower Mainland after spending eight years playing university and professional football out of province has given Chungh an opportunity to spend more time with his mom.
"She was thrilled," he said. "Now I get to be home and I’m popping by her place more often just to get a meal or two."
Those meals include butter chicken with rice, naan bread and samosas.
"Some good home cooking. â€¦ I just got to be careful not to get too big," Chungh said with a laugh.
Family is part of why B.C. was Konar’s top choice, too. Not only did he grow up in Vancouver, his dad, Kevin Konar, played linebacker for the Lions in the 1980s.
"It’s home," Adam Konar said, adding that he always cheered for the team growing up.
"So being able to put on that uniform and play out there at B.C. Place where I used to watch games and stuff will be like living out a dream, basically."
Konar added that his dad is looking forward to watching his son play in orange and black.
"He’d be excited anywhere I go, as long as I’m happy with it. But I mean, this is the only place I was going to be happy," he said. "He’s probably a little more excited than he’s showing but yeah, he’s happy for sure."