The Saskatchewan Roughriders are placing their faith in an athletic young Canadian in their most important game of the year.
After it was revealed earlier this week that former starting strongside linebacker A.J. Hendy had left the team over a dispute over playing time, Canadian Jacob Dearborn has been named as his official replacement for the West Semi-Final against Calgary.
Viewed as one of the most challenging position in Canadian football, SAM linebacker is almost exclusively an American position across the league. As a backup both there and at safety, Dearborn had taken on an increasing large rotational role throughout the season and impressed enough to earn his first start at the position in Week 15 against Edmonton. Now he’ll play a pivotal role in keeping Saskatchewan’s Grey Cup hopes alive.
Dearborn first made headlines with his impressive athleticism, including a 41-inch vertical jump, in the 2019 CFL Draft process, but went unselected out of Carleton. The Riders signed him as an undrafted free agent and he recorded four tackles in 14 games as a rookie. This season he’s taken on a much larger role, notching 18 defensive tackles and a pair of interceptions in eight games played due to injury.
Dearborn will be backed up by American Rolan Milligan, who drew the start in the regular season finale and impressed head coach Craig Dickenson, but it will be the Canadians spot to lose against an improved Stampeders passing attack.