Craig Reynolds is taking an old-school approach to Coors Light Riders Training Camp.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ President-CEO has returned to his alma mater — the University of Saskatchewan — to watch some of the steam’s preparations for the 2023 CFL season.
“I walk around campus all the time and it’s like going down memory lane,” Reynolds said during Monday morning’s workout at Griffiths Stadium.
“Every year, I wander around the old College of Commerce — it’s the Edwards School of Business now — and I’m like, ‘I remember going to class there.’
“You go back and find your graduation photo and you see the pictures of all the friends you made here. A lot of them are still my best friends to this day.
“It’s just really cool to be back. It’s such a gorgeous campus and such a great university, and they treat us so well.”
Reynolds, who grew up in Foam Lake, began his post-secondary journey at Arizona State University before attending the U of S from 1996 to 2000.
While studying in Saskatoon, he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Distinction before earning a master’s degree in Professional Accounting.
Within a decade of graduating from the U of S, Reynolds had joined the Roughriders as the Chief Financial Officer. He served the community-owned team in that capacity for six years before assuming the President-CEO’s role on March 1, 2015.
Since then, the Roughriders have visited Saskatoon for training camp to kick off every season except one — the COVID-shortened campaign of 2021.
“What I take away from having camp in Saskatoon is how important it is and how much it means to everybody,” said Reynolds, whose current stay in Saskatoon included Saturday’s Green and White Game and State of the Nation panel discussion.
“The fans who were there at State of the Nation were so appreciative of us being up here for camp. It’s so important to remember that we’re the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I know that we don’t ever forget the provincial nature of the organization, but when you’re actually here in Saskatoon and you spend significant time up here, you get to interact with the fans and you see the incredible turnout on Green and White Day, it just validates that it’s so important to be up here and getting immersed in Saskatoon life.
“For a lot of these players, their first experience in Saskatchewan is here, because they fly directly to Saskatoon and they go to the U of S dorms and then they go down to Regina for the pre-season game (this Saturday against the B.C. Lions).”
Reynolds mentioned the dorms. It should be noted, then, that he is staying in one of them during his current visit.
“I’ve got a one-bedroom,” he noted. “It’s super-nice.
“What’s nice, too, is that you can go out and spend time at practice, obviously, and also visit with the coaches and with J.O. (Jeremy O’Day, General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations).
“You go to the dining hall and you get to talk to some of the players on the way there or the way back. You just get that interaction that you wouldn’t otherwise experience.
“Last year I stayed at a hotel, but I find that I’m enjoying this year so much more, just being in the dorms.”
That proximity enables Reynolds to mingle with the rest of us dorm denizens and to fully appreciate the efforts of inexhaustible colleagues such as Blake Tiedeman (Digital Media Producer), Morgan Fleury (Digital Media Co-ordinator) and Tyler Daku (Social Lead), each of whom plays such an integral role in telling and disseminating our stories.
“You pop into their little meeting room where they’re working and you see all the effort they put in,” Reynolds noted.
“I know our team works hard, but it gives you an extra appreciation when you see them. You see the hours that they put in.”
His gratitude extends to the fans who flocked to the Gordie Howe Sports Complex for Saturday’s events. Alas, the intrasquad game was called after only 4½ minutes of play due to the smoke emanating from wildfires in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
“It means a lot to the guys to have that many fans turn out,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t have the Green and White Game continue, just thinking about safety, but it was nice to see that many people come out there for autographs.
“We saw how good our players were with the fans, but also how appreciative the fans were of the players being out there and interacting with them.
“It was just great. I’m just so glad we’re up here — and we’ll continue to come up here, because of the support.”
Samuel Emilus, whom the Roughriders selected in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2022 CFL Draft, turned heads with three impressive receptions on Monday.
“Sam’s had a good camp,” Head Coach Craig Dickenson said. “I watched him today as well and I noticed the good plays.
“Even in the mock game (on Saturday), he had a good 10 plays, so he has taken steps. Year 2 is usually when it happens and he looks like he has improved.”
Also making nice catches on Monday: Shawn Bane Jr., Bruno LaBelle, Kendall Watson and Jamal Morrow.
Morrow, an all-purpose tailback, caught a deep pass from Trevor Harris down the left sideline.
Harris also found Bane Jr. with a dart over the middle.
Earlier, in a one-on-one drill, Shea Patterson had connected with Bane Jr. for a long gain.
The defensive backs also had time to shine.
Most notably, Godfrey Onyeka registered two pass knockdowns. Jaxon Ford and Rolan Milligan Jr. each had a pass deflection.
More defensive laurels:
- Linebacker Kolby Harvell-Peel diagnosed and shut down a screen pass.
- In a 12-on-12 drill, pressure by defensive linemen Cody Roscoe and Charbel Dabire forced the quarterback out of the pocket.
- Randy Satterfield is a second-time Rider. A training-camp attendee in 2021, Satterfield arrived in Saskatoon on the weekend and practised with the team on Monday. With the Lyon College Fighting Scots in 2019, Satterfield caught 47 passes for 867 yards and 11 touchdowns. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Satterfield is difficult for the quarterbacks or the fans to miss. Just in case you are curious, he is wearing No. 83.
- The latest signing of Satterfield was made official on Monday, when the team also announced the release of receiver Jake Herslow. An early-camp standout, Herslow suffered an injury to his left knee on Thursday.