Riders sign seven to get off-season rolling

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the signing of seven players on Tuesday.

The players include Canadian linebacker A.J. Allen, Canadian offensive lineman Logan Bandy, Canadian defensive lineman Alain Cimankinda, Canadian defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly, Global kicker Henry Nell, Canadian defensive back Matt Watson, American wide receiver Jester Weah.

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Allen (six-foot-one, 235 pounds) rejoins the Roughriders after returning to the University of Guelph to finish his fifth and final collegiate season. Allen capped off a stellar collegiate career by receiving the President’s Award as the OUA’s Most Outstanding Stand-Up Defensive Player and being named an All-Canadian and OUA All-Star.

In seven games played in 2021, the Roughriders’ fourth-round selection in the 2020 CFL Draft made 58 total tackles (29 solo, 29 assisted), six tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. Over his prior four seasons, the Burlington native made 63.5 tackles, five-and-a-half sacks,12 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

Bandy (six-foot-five, 285 pounds) finished his final year of college eligibility and will return to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for 2022. Bandy attended training camp with the Roughriders last season after being selected in the fifth-round, 38th overall, of the 2021 CFL Draft.

The versatile lineman played 29 games over five seasons at the University of Calgary, most recently lining up at centre, but played tackle in the previous two seasons. Bandy was named a Canada West All-Star in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and a U SPORTS Second-Team All-Canadian in 2019. He earned an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl after that season, but it was unfortunately canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bandy helped the Dinos win the Vanier Cup in 2019, the program’s first national championship since 1995.

Cimankinda (six-foot-one 245 pounds) returns to the Roughriders after spending the 2021 season on the club’s practice roster. Cimankinda was selected by the Roughriders in the fourth round, 35th overall, of the 2021 CFL Draft.

Collegiately, Cimankinda spent three seasons with the Guelph Gryphons making 81 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. In 2019, he was named a second-team OUA All-Star. Prior to attending Guelph, he spent one season at New Mexico Military Institute, making 30 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Dheilly (six-foot-three, 226 pounds) returns to the Green and White after signing with the club in November of 2021. He was selected by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the fifth round, 46th overall, of the 2020 CFL Draft. Dheilly attended training camp with the Bombers in 2021 and played in four games making one special teams tackle.

The 24-year-old Regina native began his collegiate career playing for his hometown University of Regina Rams. As a freshman, he was named the 2016 Canada West Rookie of the Year, recording 30 tackles, four sacks and an interception. In his next season he was named a Canada West all-star, earning 26 defensive tackles and 6.5 sacks.

In 2018, he left the Rams to play for the BCJFL’s Okanogan Sun and was named an all-star after an eight-sack season. He returned to university football in 2019, suiting up for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies where he made 24 defensive tackles, six sacks and one interception before entering the 2020 Draft.

Nell (five-foot-11, 207 pounds) remains with the Roughriders after dressing for three games in 2021. The South Africa native was selected in the third round, 23rd overall, of the 2021 CFL Global Draft.

Prior to coming to the CFL, Nell spent three seasons with the Indoor Football League and the National Arena League where he had strong success, breaking an NAL record with 12 field goals made (season-long of 50 yards) while going 52-of-66 on PATs.

Nell was sent up to the Arena Football League’s Baltimore Brigade from the Cedar Rapids River Kings in 2019 after ranking first in the IFL for field goals made and field goals attempted. Prior to taking up football, he played professional rugby in South Africa in 2017 for the Limpopo Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup Premier Division.

Watson (five-foot-11, 193 pounds) was selected by the Roughriders in the sixth round, 53rd overall in the 2021 CFL Draft.

In 2021, Watson attended the University of Windsor, making the shift from defensive back to linebacker. He played in two games making four total tackles and one tackle for loss. Prior to transferring to Windsor, Watson played in 20 career games at Mount Alison. His most productive season came in 2019 where he made 29 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, and three pass breakups. Over his total time at Mount Allison, the Brampton native compiled 51 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, and four pass breakups.

Weah (six-foot-three, 209 pounds) signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and went on to spend time on the practice rosters of the Washington Football Team and the Chicago Bears. As a member of the Washington team, he dressed for one regular season game.

Collegiately, Weah spent five seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, where he contributed on special teams to start, eventually having a breakout season as a junior in 2016. He played in 13 games and led the team in receptions (36), receiving yards (870) and touchdowns (10) that season, averaging an incredible 24.2 yards per catch – the best in the ACC and the second-best average nationally. As a senior, he played 12 games making 41 receptions for 698 yards and four touchdowns, with three 100-plus-yard games. In addition to his accomplishments on the field for Pitt, Weah was voted a team captain by his teammates and was selected to play in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game.

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