Man who took over for Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, Mike Weber highlights Riders’ neg list running backs

Photo courtesy: Ohio State Athletics

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are going young at the running back position after letting William Powell hit free agency and sign with the Ottawa Redblacks.

General manager Jeremy O’Day said he “feels good” about Jamal Morrow and the incoming group of running backs that the Riders have on their negotiation list and will bring to training camp.

Morrow had nine carries for 41 yards in his rookie CFL season and flashed as a returner with a 69-yard punt return touchdown in the West Semi-Final win against Calgary. Even though he appears to have the inside track at the starting job, the 27-year-old versatile back will have competition in training camp from Shamar Moreland and potential neg list signees.

Currently there are five running backs on the Roughriders exclusive 45-man list and each one of them has NFL experience. The players are listed in order of the date O’Day submitted their names to the league office, claiming the runners as Saskatchewan property.

Mike Weber
Date added: June 9, 2021

The five-foot-10, 211-pound back took over the starting role at Ohio State University after Ezekiel Elliott was selected fourth overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft. He recorded two 1,000-yard seasons for the Buckeyes, rushing 455 times for 2,676 yards with 24 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry and recording 54 receptions for 297 yards and one touchdown.

Weber impressed at the 2019 NFL Combine by running a 4.47-second 40-yard time while recording a 33.5-inch vertical and 22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Dallas chose him in the seventh round, 218th overall during that year’s draft and he earned a spot on the practice roster. He spent time with the Chiefs, Packers and Giants, suiting up in two NFL games while earning $369,980 USD.

The 24-year-old has been a free agent since August last year and could add dynamic abilities to the Riders backfield.

Adrian Killins 
Date added: September 25, 2021

Killins accumulated 2,459 rushing yards on 407 carries (6.0 yards per carry) with 25 touchdowns, 864 yards on 70 receptions and eight touchdowns plus 1,025 kick-off return yards on 47 attempts with one touchdown during 51 games at the University of Central Florida.

The five-foot-eight, 177-pound ball carrier was clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash while with the Knights. That pure speed led to him signing an undrafted NFL free agent contract with Philadelphia, however, the Eagles released him after one season on the practice squad in 2020. Denver inked the diminutive playmaker and after he injured his ankle during a pre-season game last year, spent the entire season on reserve.

The 24-year-old is currently under contract with the Broncos, but his status could change depending how new head coach Nathaniel Hackett views Killins.

Jacques Patrick
Date added: January 17, 2022

While at Florida State University, Patrick backed up Dalvin Cook and shared the backfield with Cam Akers, two backs who have gone on to NFL stardom. He amassed 413 touches for 2,146 offensive yards with 18 touchdown for the Seminoles.

The six-foot-two, 226-pound back went unselected in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he did have his name called in the 2020 XFL Draft by Tampa Bay. He rushed 60 times for 254 yards and two touchdowns with five receptions for 49 yards prior to the league suspending operations.

His film from the XFL earned him an contract with Cincinnati where he spent the 2020 season on the Bengals practice squad. Patrick had stints with the 49ers, playing in two games for San Francisco, Panthers and Ravens while earning over $300,000 USD in the NFL.

Three-down scouts are intrigued by the skillset Patrick could bring to the CFL.

Rodney Smith
Date added: January 20, 2022

Smith starred at the University of Minnesota as he rushed for over 1,100 yards twice. He carried the ball 879 times for 4,125 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and 29 touchdowns while adding 65 receptions for 521 yards.

After signing with the Panthers as an undrafted NFL free agent, Smith played in seven games for Carolina during the 2020 season. He started the final game of the regular season and rushed 41 times for 156 yards and one touchdown. Following stints with the Titans and Lions last year, Smith has become a free agent.

Tyler Ervin
Date added: February 7, 2022

Photo courtesy: Green Bay Packers

Ervin had an ultra productive senior season at San Jose State University, rushing for 1,601 yards on 294 carries, 5.4 yards per carry, with 13 touchdowns plus 334 yards on 45 catches and two additional touchdowns.

After ripping off a 4.41 time in the 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical, 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump and 17 reps of 225 pounds at the 2016 NFL Combine, Ervin was selected in the fourth round, 119th overall during that year’s draft by the Houston Texans.

He’s since played 43 NFL games through five seasons with three teams, the Texans, Jaguars and Packers. The five-foot-10, 192-pound back carried the ball 19 times for 92 yards, caught 11 passes for 84 yards, returned 50 kick-offs for 1,072 yards and 77 punts for 631 yards.

The 28-year-old made over $3.6 million USD while playing in the NFL and after one season out of the league appears to want a chance to keep his playing career going in Canada.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.