Ratio-breaking Saskatchewan Roughriders’ linebacker Cameron Judge watched, learned and applied the knowledge gained from veterans to fuel his breakout 2019 season.
Judge recorded a career-high 61 tackles, 11 special teams stops, five sacks, two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and one forced fumble for the Riders. The 25-year-old was the West Division Most Outstanding Canadian for his efforts.
“I got in the film room a lot more. Just from first hand experience watching guys like Sam Eguavoen, Derrick Moncrief, Solomon Elimimian of course, just the way that they handle business off the field was probably the biggest thing,” Judge told The Rod Pedersen Show.
“I was able to be roommates with Derrick on the road and Sam the year before and just the preparation all the way up to that final practice before we were about to take off on the bus, just preparing themselves. I took that and tried to apply it to my game and it paid dividends.”
His play north of the border garnered NFL attention during the off-season as he worked out for the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Houston Texans invited Judge to rookie mini-camp in May 2017, but he did not receive a contract offer.
“The Chargers one was pretty short and sweet, it was just some linebacker drills and we did a shuttle. The Jaguars we almost did a whole pro day and then did a little on field workout,” Judge said.
Saskatchewan general manager Jeremy O’Day was able to retain Judge, signing the national starter to a one-year deal for the 2020 season. It’s worth $190,000 in hard money and could pay over $200,000 when all is said and done.
“It was pretty uncertain, it’s a weird feeling having nothing set out for the rest of your life. It was definitely a relief for me signing that contract,” Judge said.
The jury was out on Judge after a tumultuous rookie season in which the UCLA product arrived late to training camp in Saskatchewan, played in just three games prior to suffering a shoulder injury and Tweeted he was stepping away from football in September 2017 to focus on an off-field opportunity.
The athleticism is certainly there. And Judge laid the gavel down in 2018 when he made 41 tackles, two sacks and forced one fumble in 18 games. He turned the promise shown as a prospect when Saskatchewan selected Judge in the first round, second overall during the 2017 CFL draft into production.
“It was a work in progress, it took a long time to get there, but it felt good to be able to reward them for taking a chance on me. Especially, when things got off to such a slow start,” Judge said.
“During my second year coach [Chris] Jones told me, ‘I’m proud of you, keep going.’ Stuff like that just helps you apply yourself, be determined to get something done and show that you were worth the pick.”