Training camp for the 2014 Saskatchewan Roughriders is underway as the two-a-day workouts have started meaning 2013 is officially over and all that is left is the memories. As the team starts the long journey to what they hope is a repeat in 2014. As is the case across the CFL, there are many new players looking to make an impression. Here is a list of newcomers in green and white you may want to pay attention to over the next couple of weeks.
WR DEVIN AROMASHODU
A late signing by GM Brendan Taman, the receiver comes to Saskatchewan with a solid NFL resume. The Auburn grad spent several years in the NFL catching 78 passes with 5 of those catches going for touchdowns. Aromashodu has the speed to go deep and can be counted on to make the tough catch inside if called upon as well.
WR KRISTOPHER BASTIEN
Some in CFL circles suggest the Riders got a steal when they took Bastien with the 26th overall pick in the 2014 draft as he might have been the best receiver in the CIS last season. Scouts believe he is the complete package and that he will have a tremendous CFL career. If that is to happen, there is no better place than Saskatchewan as the team has had several great Canadian receivers over the years,
P BRETT CAMERON
If one made a football team based on his lineage, Cameron would be a sure-fire addition to the Riders. His father Bob was a long-time punter for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and is a CFL Hall of Famer. Cameron is trying to follow in his dad’s footsteps and comes to Canada after a successful college career at the University of North Dakota. With Ricky Schmitt no longer in the equation, the job is open and Cameron would like to seize it and start doing what his dad did many years ago.
LB CHAD KILGORE
The Riders are looking for a middle linebacker and while Kilgore may not go into camp listed number one on the depth chart, one has to think the coaching staff will give him a good look at the position. He recorded almost 400 tackles during a four year college career at Northwest Missouri State. His hustle and desire to get to the football is what will stand out the most.
RB CURTIS MACNEAL
No one knew what they had in Kory Sheets when he started with the Riders in 2012 and no one knows about the crop of running backs coming into this year’s camp looking to replace the Grey Cup MVP. MacNeal may get the first shot and he certainly has the resume to back it up. MacNeal led the USC Trojans in rushing as a junior in 2011 gaining over one thousand yards. At 5 foot 7, he was thought to be too small to do his thing in the NFL and that size could hamper him in the CFL as well, but he has the tools to be a running back in the CFL.
LB ADRIAN MOTEN
After bouncing around the NFL, the University of Maryland product is hoping to find a home in the CFL. Moten is a playmaker and can play all three positions. He is also a very solid pass-rusher which may make him enticing in a Cam Wake type of role. That’s a role he would love nothing more to fill since he considers himself to be a hybrid of the former CFL defensive player of the year who is now a star with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
WR RYAN SMITH
No, that isn’t Weston Dressler wearing #2. Its Ryan Smith, but he could be considered a Dressler 2.0 as the comparisons to him have already been made. He is a Dressler clone and while Weston played his college ball at North Dakota, Smith did his thing at North Dakota State. He may have been the player that impressed the coaching staff the most at the Florida mini-camp earlier this season and they are looking forward to seeing what he can do against more experienced players at training camp. If he is another Dressler, he is sure to be a fan favourite very quickly.
WR MITCH THOMPSON
Mitch Thompson may be a long-shot to make the football team this year, but the Regina Thunder receiver has proven he has what it takes to advance his game to the next level. Thompson has an incredible set of hands and was considered one of the best in the game in the CJFL last year. His 9 catch, 189 yard, two touchdown game in the Canadian Bowl victory against Vancouver Island showed many what he can do. If he performs well at camp and a practice roster spot is available, don’t be surprised if its offered to Thompson who will be battling with many other Canadian receivers in what should be an interesting battle to watch.