April 28, 2023

Tait: Dayton Black feels fortunate heading to CFL Draft

Christian Bender/CFL.ca

Dayton Black is one of the CFL’s top prospects, so much so that the Brandon, Man. product — by way of the University of Saskatchewan — figures to hear his name called in the early rounds of next week’s draft.

It will be a big moment for the former Neelin High School quarterback, who then converted from pivot to the defensive line and then across to offensive tackle during his days at the U of S. That, of course, is all relative as there has likely been no bigger moment than the day he walked out of a Brandon hospital after a two-week stay from an infection that almost cost him one of his legs from the knee down.

“I definitely don’t take anything for granted any more, I’ll tell you that,” began Black in a recent chat with Bluebombers.com. “I was in the hospital for 14 days on medication and lost about 35 pounds. It was a tough go, but I made it through it and here I am now.”

Where Black is at now is a good place. He was one of the stars at the CFL Combine presented by New Era in Edmonton last month and in a draft that is said to be thin along the 0-line, moved into the 20th spot in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s final rankings.

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All of that was in question in 2021 when Black returned home from Saskatoon one weekend to help with the work on the family farm.

“I woke up Monday morning not able to walk because my knee was all swollen,” Black recalled. “I rushed to my family doctor who then rushed me to the ER and found I had an infection that was eating away at my knee. They gave me all these medical terms that I can’t remember now. They don’t know the exact cause if it, but something got into my bloodstream and began eating away.

“The doctors said if I had come in a day later they would have had to amputate from the knee down. They also told me there were no guarantees. It was a tough time. It was during COVID, too, and so I was in the hospital alone and my mom and dad couldn’t come. There was also a tough battle mentally, but my mom and dad instilled those ideas of hard work and not giving up just because things are tough. I was very lucky to have the doctors and nurses I had and for how well they took care of me. I’m still beyond grateful for them.”

Black’s upbringing certainly helped in his recovery. He comes from good stock, with his father growing up on the farm and now owning a construction company.

“I’ve done concrete my entire life,” he explained. “I’ve been shovelling concrete since I was probably 12. I’m a work boots and jeans guy.”


That work ethic certainly helped in his recovery, so much so that he not only gained the weight back and overcame the infection but was a Canada West All-Star last season.

There’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect to Black and everything he approaches. He’s a prototypical prairie product who grinds and grinds until the day’s task is done.

“It might be cliché, but I would describe myself as the hardest worker in the room,” he said. “I worked with my dad my whole life so all I know is hard work. I worked on the farm with my grampa and with my dad and I just bring that attitude to the team, on the field and off the field. I just want to be the hardest worker.”

A lifelong Blue Bombers fan like another Manitoban playing at the U of S in teammate Charlie Ringland, Black has been heavily influenced by longtime CFLer Scott Flory – the Huskies’ head coach – and another alum of the green and white.

“Pat Neufeld has come to numerous practices at the University of Saskatchewan and he’s been an enormous help and influence on me,” said Black of the Blue Bombers all-star guard. “He’s a guy I look up to for what he does in the community and the way he plays football. That’s what I’m trying to be like. I want to be able to give back to my school and my hometown.”

The Dayton Black File

Position: Offensive line

School: University of Saskatchewan

Height: 6-5 1/2; Weight: 298

FYI: A Canada West All-Star in 2022 after starting all 12 games last year, including the Vanier Cup…Converted from D-line to O-line after his freshman season at the U of S…Played quarterback at high school in Brandon at Neelin…Broke Winnipeg High School League AA/AAA single-season passing record with 1,981 yards and 20 TDs in seven games in 2017.

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