The Saskatchewan Roughriders unveiled their depth chart for Friday’s home opener against the B.C. Lions and it features four Canadian starters on the offensive line, including one at an unexpected position.
Saskatoon native Brett Boyko had been receiving first-team reps at right tackle in recent weeks, but is now slated to start on the left side against the Leos. That spot had been held by American Terran Vaughn as he battled through a shoulder injury, but the Riders’ blindside protector has been placed on the six-game injured list ahead of Week 1. American Cameron Jefferson will play right tackle.
Boyko has plenty of experience at the tackle position, but carries with him a decidedly mixed resume.
Coming out of his four NCAA seasons at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Boyko was considered the top prospect in the 2015 CFL Draft. The Saskatoon native started in all 43 games he played as a Rebel and was invited to play in the 2015 East-West Shrine Game, a college all-star game in the United States.
As a senior, Boyko was named second-team All-Mountain West Conference after moving from left tackle to left guard and allowing just one quarterback sack on the year. That season he was named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List and Phil Steele ranked him as the No. 24 offensive tackle in the United States.
The B.C. Lions selected him 14th overall in the second round of that year’s CFL draft, but signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent. He spent the season on the Eagles practice roster, before moving on to the Los Angeles Chargers, where he spent three seasons (2016-2018) and played in one NFL game. Boyko was also a member of the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football before the league ceased operations.
After finally arriving in Vancouver ahead of the 2019 season, Boyko failed to live up to the hype. He started five games at tackle for the Lions and became the poster boy for the team’s monumental struggles at keeping quarterback Michael Reilly upright, relegated to a backup role for the remainder of the season. He was released after the canceled 2020 campaign.
The Riders now hope that the local product can turn his career around and deliver on his potential, keeping star quarterback Cody Fajardo healthy in the process.