Riders’ Ricardo Louis saw Drake at the ESPYs, wants to prove he ‘can still be the guy’

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Former NFL receiver Ricardo Louis had a number of brushes with fame prior to signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The 27-year-old played collegiately at Auburn University where he was a teammate of veteran Roughriders’ defensive back Nick Marshall, who was playing quarterback at the time.

The pair connected for the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare,” a game-winning Hail Mary that secured a 43-38 win for Auburn over Georgia. The victory helped the Tigers secure a first-place finish in the SEC West Division, electrifying the 87,451 fans in attendance.

Louis signed with the Riders in June 2021 figuring that Marshall would have found his way back to the NFL by the time he arrived in Regina. He was surprised to reconnect with his old quarterback when they realized they had become teammates for the first time since 2014.

“Every time we see each other, it’s just smiles,” said Louis in a videoconference. “We just have a bond where we know what we’ve accomplished, we know what we’ve done in the past and we just have a special bond every time.”

The Prayer at Jordan-Hare was nominated for an ESPY as the Play of the Year in 2014, which meant the football team was invited to attend the show. The event was hosted by Drake and drew 2.2 million viewers on ESPN.

“It was awesome,” said Louis. “I was starstruck because I was seeing guys like Peyton Manning, Russell Westbrook, Drake — famous people. I’m up on stage with my teammates, we were nominated for two awards. We met Floyd Mayweather, it was a great experience and I always thought about how it would feel to go back because it was just such an amazing experience.”

Louis was a fourth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2016 NFL Draft and dressed for 32 games over this first two seasons, recording 45 receptions for 562 yards. He suffered a neck injury in August 2018 while he was lifting weights, which he called a “freak accident.”

The native of Miami, Fla. missed the entire season and was waived by the Browns, leading him to sign with the Dolphins. He suffered a knee injury in May and missed the entire season before being released in September 2020.

One of the reasons he decided to sign in the CFL is to prove that he can still play professional football despite his recent injury problems.

“I don’t want to live my life with any regrets,” said Louis. “I don’t want to live my life knowing that I could have came back and played, so I just took advantage of the opportunity and I just decided that I’m going to keep going until I can’t anymore. I’m glad, I’m grateful, and I’m blessed to be here now with the opportunity to play.”

Head coach Craig Dickenson has told the media that receiver, defensive line, and defensive back are the positions at which he’s most noticed the new players in training camp. He singled out Louis as a player who has “flashed,” meaning he’s stood out and made plays.

“I’m really here to prove that I can still be the guy,” said Louis. “I can still make plays, I can still play at a high level on a pro team, so I’m here to take advantage of any opportunity I get.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.