The Saskatchewan Roughriders have signed American return man Mario Alford to a contract extension.
Alford was acquired by the Riders through a trade in Week 5. He went on to make CFL and Roughrider history.
In just his second game in Green and White, he ran a missed field goal back 112 yards for a touchdown. Alford also had a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in Week 10 against the Elks and a 92-yard kickoff return TD versus the Blue Bombers in Week 14. His league-leading fourth and final return of the year — a 104-yard punt return in Week 20 against the Stampeders — put him in the history books.
With that final return touchdown, Alford became just the fifth player in CFL history and the first ever Rider to complete the ‘Trifecta’ (kick return touchdown, punt return touchdown and missed field goal return touchdown) in a single season. He also broke the Roughriders’ record for most return touchdowns by an individual in a single season (four). He has been named the Roughriders and West Division’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player with a shot at being named the best special teams player in the CFL on Thursday night.
In total this season, he recorded 43 punt returns for 524 yards (12.2 average) and one touchdown, 37 kickoff returns for 937 yards (25.3 average) and two touchdowns, and three missed field goal returns for 129 yards (43 average) and another major.
Before his trade to Saskatchewan, Alford spent two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes and played nine games there. Alford returned 26 punts for 486 yards and three touchdowns and added nine kick returns for 477 yards. He also held a 20-yard average per return. Prior to the Alouettes, he played six games for the Toronto Argonauts, making seven catches for 57 yards and recorded 170 yards off eight kickoff returns.
Alford was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round, 238th overall during the 2015 NFL Draft. He went on to play one game for the Bengals as a rookie, before moving on to spend time with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. Alford played in three games as a returner for the Browns, returning eight punts for 68 yards and eight kickoffs for 258 yards.
In the NCAA, the Georgia native played two seasons at West Virginia (2013-2014), suiting up for 22 games as a Mountaineer. He caught 92 career passes for 1,497 yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. He also returned 37 kickoffs for 972 yards (26.3-yard average) and two touchdowns. In 2014, he led the entire NCAA in return touchdowns with two and he led the Big 12 in receiving touchdowns with 11. Prior to attending West Virginia, Alford was a running back with the Georgia Military Bulldogs (2011-2012) and in his second season led the team with 541 yards rushing and six touchdowns.