April 19, 2024

5 things to know for 2024: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Matt Smith/CFL.ca

As the 2024 season approaches, CFL.ca is here to catch you up with the 5 Things To Know series. Each article will look at key storylines facing each team this season, while examining off-season movement and where your team might stand in 2024. 

As I sit here buried in CFL Draft preparations, it’s hard not to think about the recent history of the Riders player selection and some major success stories that could lead to their revival this summer and fall.

While we wait to see if Nelson Lokombo turns into the player Riders fans are hoping and with names like Cameron Judge and Dakoda Shepley no longer on the roster due to the ever spinning ball of CFL roster movement, there is no question the success Saskatchewan has found in names like Samuel Emilus, Lake Korte-Moore, Brayden Lenius and potentially 2023 second round pick Jaxon Ford.

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With Craig Dickenson moving on to new opportunities with brother Dave in Calgary, and with a fresh crop of picks ready to lead the Rider resurgence in under a month, it’s time to look at five things you need to know about Saskatchewan heading into this season.


The Riders hit what I believe to be an organization-defining home run by getting Corey Mace. Most recently leading the Toronto Argonauts defence, Mace hits all the notes for me from former player to correct temperament for the pressure that comes with taking the top job in Regina. He also has a great feel for game management, according to nearly everyone I’ve spoken to this off-season.

With this as introduction, Mace will no doubt craft the feel and behaviour of the Riders around his belief systems and if successful, that WILL mean more wins for Saskatchewan. Add in young thoughtful coaches like Marc Mueller and J.C. Sherritt and you get a significant reason for hope and belief in the near future.


Shortly after getting hired by the Riders as a player personnel coordinator in football operations. , Larry Dean attended the 2024 CFL Combine to start scouting ahead of the 2024 CFL Draft (CFL.ca)

The four-time CFL All-Star and one of my favourites to ever watch run sideline-to-sideline relentlessly, Larry Dean moved on to a new role in the organization which will leave a sizeable void in the middle. Let’s not forget the triumph that was when Dean recovered from a freak preseason Achilles injury in 2021 and he eventually returned to form as one of the CFL’s best in diagnosing plays and getting to the football.

Of course, the free agency addition of Jameer Thurman from Hamilton will immediately make this a smooth switch, but there is just no replacing the tied up head towel, champ juice and overall energy Dean brought to the Canadian Football League.


After signing with Saskatchewan as a free agent in 2023, Trevor Harris helped the Roughriders win three of his first four games as the team’s starting quarterback. Then, of course, he suffered a season-ending injury which led the Riders to trying a bit of this and a bit of that to get back into the West Division playoff race. However, without Harris the potential late-season push just never gained much steam.

I like Mason Fine, I see the upside to Shea Patterson, but I firmly believe for the Riders to do anything of consequence, Harris has to be healthy and his ever accurate, high percentage self.



Forgive the play on words, but the reality is that these two standout Canadian pass-catchers need to have that mantra all year long.

They’ve ridden the wave of NFL chances and losing season with evolving coaching staffs. NOW is the time to see Samuel Emilus and Brayden Lenius lead the CFL as a Canadian receiver duo.


One of the true surprises of CFL Free Agency this spring for me was AJ Ouellette choosing to leave Toronto for literally greener pastures in Saskatchewan. When you push back from the initial shock, it’s easy to see why AJ made the move with his former defensive coordinator, who no doubt promised to run the ball with veracity while bringing in offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick from the rival Bombers. Hardrick is a stout pass protector who can also move well on the edge to clear space for the bruising rushing style of Ouellette.

The Riders ideal make up this year is stifling defence, winning time of possession and having a healthy Trevor Harris pick teams apart with his eyes and mind while AJ adds the muscle downhill in big moments.

If all that comes together and stays on the rails, Riders fans are in for a season to remember.

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