Canadian OL Jamal Campbell signed with Riders after QB Cody Fajardo made ‘very persuasive’ pitch

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

Freshly-signed offensive tackle Jamal Campbell signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders after franchise quarterback Cody Fajardo made a convincing pitch to lure him out west.

“I actually had an opportunity to speak with him and he’s excited and he tells me all the great things about Saskatchewan. I’m just excited to play out there with him again and really just find my feet,” Campbell told The SportsCage.

“One thing about Cody is he’s definitely very persuasive and he’s very enthusiastic. I could hear it in his voice, just all of the different things. He related well to me because he just talked about some of the things we’d done together and how we could continue them out there (in Saskatchewan). Cody’s definitely great at being persuasive.”

The six-foot-six, 315-pound blocker played alongside Fajardo for two seasons in Toronto while the quarterback filled a depth role behind Ricky Ray. Campbell doesn’t hold any ill-will towards his former team, who cut him last week after five years of service to avoid paying him $7,500 off-season roster bonus.

“It’s a business, right? I love football, so at the end of the day things that go on with the business you just gotta keep moving forward and right now that chapter’s closed and I’m looking forward to touching down in Regina. I know it’s a big year for Rider fans this year and we have a lot of work to do, so I’m just excited to get out there and meet the guys in person and just get rolling,” said Campbell.

The Riders started three different offensive tackles during the 2021 season after veteran Terran Vaughn underwent shoulder surgery during training camp. Two of the three, Saskatoon native Brett Boyko and former NFL blocker Cameron Jefferson, are no longer on the roster, leaving Campbell as the likely starter at right tackle.

The Toronto native has had preliminary discussions with head coach Craig Dickenson and offensive line coach Stephen Sorrells about his role in Riderville. The 2022 season will be his first time playing outside of his home province — he played collegiately at York University — and he’s looking forward to the change.

“I really haven’t been anywhere but home and for me now to go to a place where everybody loves to watch (the game). I stayed in Saskatchewan for a week when we had an away game and we didn’t want to go back east and one thing I realized is that everyone bleeds green. Everywhere you go, everywhere is green,” he said.

Campbell suffered a quad injury late during the 2021 season and missed the final five regular season games as well as the East Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He has since returned to full health and should be ready to hit the ground running with the Green and White.

The former third-round draft pick excited to wear green in 2022 for a number of reasons, one of which has to do with plus size fashion.

“I love it. My girlfriend’s favourite colour is green, so she’s pretty excited about this and I think it makes me look slimmer,” said Campbell.