May 8, 2024

One Question for 2024: How far will new-look Riders go?

Arthur Ward/

As the 2024 season approaches, each team has a question that looms over it that will shape its season. asked players across the league about that question. Our series continues with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the impact that new additions could bring to the team in 2024. 

REGINA — While change may be the law of life, it’s the first commandment of football.

No team stays the same year after year, but for one reason or another, some undergo more drastic transformations than others. It’s the case of the 2024 Saskatchewan Roughriders, who’ll have plenty of new faces taking over Mosaic Stadium looking to guide the team back to the post-season.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t familiar names in Regina poised to take an ever bigger role while donning the Green and White, as is the case of National receiver Samuel Emilus, who had a breakout season in 2023 and is looking forward to working with new head coach Corey Mace.

“My first interaction with him, he was on vacation and he still spent some time (while) with his family to try to talk to me,” the pass-catcher told last month in Hamilton at the league’s content capture. “Just to show how much he cares about his players and what type of environment he’s trying to build with us this year.

“I’m excited to go to work with him. I heard from a lot of former or current players that he’s a great coach.”

» Five Things To Know for 2024: Saskatchewan Roughriders
» A team-by-team look at the 2024 CFL Draft: Who did the Roughriders select?
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Mace joins the Roughriders with an impressive resume. After playing with the Buffalo Bills and Calgary Stampeders, the now head coach coached the defensive line in Calgary for five seasons (2016-2019, 2021) before joining the Toronto Argonauts (2022-2023) as a defensive coordinator. Over that span Mace was able to help his teams win three Grey Cups (2014, 2018, 2022), bringing plenty of championship experience to Regina.

Joining Mace as first-year Roughriders are running back AJ Ouellette and offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick. Both players were named CFL All-Stars in 2023 and have previous Grey Cup triumphs on their resumes as well.

That infusion of talent on offence comes to complement a young and talented wide receiver group led by Emilus, Shawn Bane Jr. and Kian Schaffer-Baker. Add to that the return of starting quarterback Trevor Harris, who suffered a season-ending injury in 2023 but is on schedule to return to the field in 2024.

“The thing with Trevor, being around him on and off the field is it really shows how good he is,” said the National receiver about his pivot. “He brings that experience, nothing really fazes him and he knows the plan in position to be successful.

“There’s just a snowball effect.”

Emilus is part of a talented group of National receivers around the CFL. Between veterans like Nic Demski, Schaffer-Baker, Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Kaion Julien-Grant and Justin McInnis, there’s no shortage of Canadian pass-catchers making plays across the country.


The Riders receiver caught 70 passes for 1,096 yards and six majors in only his second CFL season last year, but despite the gaudy numbers knows he still has a lot of work to do to catch up to some of the names on that list.

“I feel like I still have a lot to prove,” said Emilus. “One, I have to be consistent. I’m trying to be in the league, be consistent, have multiple yards kind of like (Nic) Demski. He’s a guy I look up to because he has been doing this for a lot of years.”

Ultimately though, football is a team sport. For the Roughriders to translate a successful off-season into regular and post-season wins, it’ll take the entire squad.

“We believe the offensive line is going to be able to protect us. And as long as we get our captain protected, it’s only going to be a positive effect on the team,” said Emilus. “I’m excited to work with those guys offensively. Even the guys defensively because at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat to make us better.”

Saskatchewan also brought in new faces to the team via the 2024 CFL Draft, including first round pick offensive lineman Kyle Hergel and a trio of wide receivers in Bemidji State’s Dhel Duncan-Busby, Regina’s D’Sean Mimbs and South Florida’s Ajou Ajou.

Emilus is only a couple years removed from being a draft pick himself looking to make a name in the league.

“Be free minded and open,” was the advice the now veteran had for young receivers starting their CFL careers. “If the team wants you to help the team, that could be on special teams or offence. Obviously there are gonna be some changes, you’re not going to be the No. 1 option anymore, so that’s one adjustment.

“If you’re on a pro team you’re already doing the work so just keep on going.”

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