It’s been long offseason. There’s been no CFL in 5 months and if we are being truthful, there really hasn’t been Rider football worth caring about in closer to 9 months. I’m pretty pumped for the new season to get here. Rookie camp opens this week and that is the first major milestone on the way to the 2023 season.
In honour of rookie camp I am going to highlight one rookie per position that I think is worth keeping an eye on.
With Harris locked in as the starter new QB recruits will at best be trying to unseat Mason Fine for the back-up role, or more likely looking to secure a practice roster spot. Levi Lewis is a former Ragin’ Cajun (great team name) who had pretty solid college career. He also had a cup of coffee with the Seahawks. His college success was not primarily based on his legs so in theory he has potential as a pure passer.
Tough year to be trying to crack the Riders as a RB. Morrow and Hickson are locks and we have a set returner in Alford. Literally the only way a new RB is making this team barring injury is the practice roster. Javian Hawkin is one to watch. He’s a smaller back but did break the Louisville single season rushing record in 2019.
This is actually a position where there may be a roster spot up for grabs. In theory the American depth chart goes Wieneke, Walker, Bane and Tevin Jones. But Jones has been wildly inconsistent in his time here and is hardly a lock. I was going to highlight Jake Herslow but only so I could comment that I’d prefer if his name was Jake Hefast. So let’s highlight Kalija Lipscomb. He did not have eye popping college stats but did manage to bounce around NFL practice rosters for the past 3 seasons. We all know hype doesn’t guarantee success so an under the radar type of guy like Lipscomb may flourish in the CFL.
If O’Day didn’t manage to find us a couple mildly competent offensive tackles then get ready for another season full of cursing, disappointment and numbing yourself to the pain with rye. Jerald Hawkins is a guy the Riders were very excited to get signed. He was a 4th round pick of the Pittsburg Steelers in 2016 and has been bouncing around NFL teams ever since. At 6’6, 305 he has the size. He’s still only 29 years old and has been receiving NFL coaching for the past 7 years. I dare not get my hopes up but if anyone has a chance slowing down the steady stream of opposing defenders off the edges, he would be the guy.
The most recent signing Charles Akanno is the one I’m watching. He had 20.5 sacks in his college career at Idaho, 11 came in his final year. He also has 17 tackles for a loss that season. In recent years O’Day has managed to recruit Woodard, Robertson, Lanier and Marino. Hoping Akanno can be the next name in that series (you know from a talent perspective).
Going to give two names here. As soon as we signed him La'Akea Kaho'ohanohano-Davis shot to the top of my favourite player list. I hope he becomes a tackling machine and forces play by play guys to say it over and over. The other name I will give is Kolby Harvell-Peel. For reasons other than his name I think he bears watching. He was a college safety but has the size to move up to LB in the CFL.
The secondary is probably the one place where there may be a starting spot up for grabs. Clark, Milligan and Marshall will be projected to start. If Amari Henderson can show progression he is in theory the 4th American but he’s hardly a lock. The player I’m keeping an eye on is Leon O’Neal Jr. A 4 year starting at Texas A & M. Spent last year as an undrafted free agent with San Francisco. The 49ers have solid D so if he was someone they had interest in there must be something there.
I apologize in advance for likely giving the Rider Prophet curse to each an everyone of the players I just mentioned.