August 11, 2023

Morris: Shawn Bane Jr. feeling at home with Riders

Arthur Ward/

After living through some dark days Shawn Bane Jr. is enjoying his time in the sun.

Since 2019 the Saskatchewan Roughrider receiver was rejected by the NFL, grieved for the loss of his father, and felt underappreciated during a two-year stint with the Calgary Stampeders.

“It’s adversity,” Bane said in a telephone interview from Regina after practice this week. “The only constant in life is change. Once I understood that in my mind, it was like ‘OK, there’s not much that I need to get used to except for change.’”

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Signing with Saskatchewan as a free agent this year has brought a major change to Bane’s life. Once a voice in the choir with the Stampeders, Bane has taken centre stage with the Riders’ receiving corps.

Heading into this week’s games Bane was the CFL’s leading receiver with 47 catches for 615 yards and two touchdowns. In his last three games, the 28-year-old from Sarasota, Fla., has 26 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s so humbling,” Bane said about his season so far. “There’s so much time and work and effort that I’ve put into my craft, myself and my ability.

“It’s not like I’m stopping and smelling the roses because there’s more work to be done. I don’t think I’ve arrived. I still think there’s a lot more work I can show and prove to myself.”

Bane will be one of Saskatchewan’s weapons when the Riders (4-4) travel to Montreal to play the Alouettes (4-3) Friday. He led all receivers in Saskatchewan’s nail-biting 26-24 win over the Ottawa REDBLACKS last weekend with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Besides his talent, head coach Craig Dickenson likes the energy and enthusiasm Bane brings to the team.

“Bane is a worker,” Dickenson told reporters in Regina. “He loves football. He’s a football junkie. He’s a gym rat.

“I love having him on our team. He has been a pleasant addition on the field and an even better addition in the locker room. He’s a super guy.”

Bane played 13 games in parts of two seasons in Calgary, making 24 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns. He found himself competing for space on a roster last year that included 1,000-yard receiver Malik Henry, Reggie Begelton, Kamar Jorden and Luther Hakunavanhu.

Bane believed the Stampeders were never going to take what he had to give so he jumped at the offer from the Riders.

“They (Saskatchewan) trusted my ability,” said the five-foot-nine, 178-pound speedster. “I was able to talk to a ton of people through the process and they were all super excited about me in general and by me being a part of what their vision was.

“I kind of took that and ran with it.” Bane admits feeling satisfaction when proving those who doubted his abilities wrong.

“I do wonder at times (at) the look on coaches faces when they are seeing the success I’m having,” he said. “It’s still confusing to me but it was not for me to understand I guess.”

Bane said his faith in himself and the offence schemes devised by Kelly Jeffrey, Saskatchewan’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, have contributed to his success this season.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “You’ve got coach Kelly drawing up some crazy plays to get me around the offence. There’s the comfortability and confidence within myself.

“I think years and years of just putting the work in is finally bearing fruit.”


Dickenson isn’t surprised by Bane’s success.

“We felt like he was that good of a player,” he said. “He was just kind of stuck behind some really good ones in Calgary.

“We felt like if he got his opportunity you’d see the product and that’s what has happened.”
Growing up Bane excelled at both baseball and football. He attended Sarasota High School, noted for its baseball program, where he played centrefield.

Bane accepted a football scholarship from Northwest Missouri State but was later told by his high school coach the Florida Marlins had shown interest in him.

“It’s not like I’m living with much regret,” he said. “But I do think about what if I did stick with it?”
Bane still spends time in the batting cage and takes batting practice when he can.

In his four seasons at Northwest Missouri State Bane made 212 catches for 3,363 yards and 31 touchdowns in 48 games.

The NFL Atlanta Falcons signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2019 but he was released five months later.

“Getting let go definitely hurt me,” he said. “It didn’t shake my confidence nor my ability to make plays.”

In January 2020 Bane’s father died in a car accident in Florida at the age of 44.

“It hurt,” Bane said. “I shed a bunch of tears and I had to make peace with that. I understood I had to carry the torch.”

Bane signed with Calgary in 2020 only to have the season cancelled by COVID-19. He signed again in 2021 but was released following training camp then brought back mid-season.

“It was just football,” said Bane. “If you want it bad enough, you work hard enough, you’ll be seen, you’ll be noticed.

“That journey, that learning curve of the NFL to the CFL, I think it all had to happen for a reason.”
The game against Montreal would have been the first meeting between the Riders’ Trevor Harris and the Als’ Cody Fajardo since the quarterbacks switched teams in free agency. Harris has been sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury while Fajardo was limited in practice on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday with a left shoulder problem. He is available for the game.

Bane is looking at the game as another chance to prove himself.

“I played against them last year when I played for Calgary,” he said. “We won but I don’t think I did much. “I’m ready to make a splash against them and get the W.”

Bane has only played eight games for the Riders but believes he made the correct decision in moving to Saskatchewan.

“I think I can do a lot here, in this league,” he said. “Only God knows where I’ll be next but it does feel like home.”

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