Riders add Saskatchewan Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus to negotiation list

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Roughriders have added University of Saskatchewan quarterback Mason Nyhus to their exclusive negotiation list.

That could mean the local product stays home to begin his pro football career.

The Regina-born QB went unselected in the 2022 CFL Draft and returned to school for a fifth season, leading the Huskies to a second straight Vanier Cup appearance. His CFL rights remained up for grabs until Thursday, November 24 when the Riders officially claimed him.

A Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School graduate, Nyhus arrived on campus in Saskatoon in 2016. After initially redshirting and spending two more years as a backup, he took over as the team’s starter in 2019, throwing for 2,300 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in nine games.

After the coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 season to be cancelled, Nyhus took a major leap forward in 2021. In ten games, he threw for 2,686 yards with 22 touchdowns against four interceptions on his way to being named a Canada West conference all-star. Saskatchewan advanced to the national championship for the first time since 2006 as a result, losing to the Western University Mustangs, but CFL teams showed little interest in the six-foot-one, 223-pound passer as he did not receive a National Combine invite.

Following the graduation of star running back Adam Machart, the Huskies offence shifted the focus onto their fifth-year signal caller in 2022. Nyhus threw for 3,829 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 12 games — leading the nation in passing yards per game. He was named a Canada West all-star for the second year in a row and earned the conference’s Most Valuable Player award, becoming a finalist for the Hec Crighton Trophy. He was beaten out for the distinguished award by Laval University receiver Kevin Mital, while settling for a second-team All-Canadian selection.

In his final collegiate game on Saturday, November 26, Nyhus suffered his second-straight Vanier Cup defeat at the hands of Mital’s Rouge et Or. He completed 34-of-43 passes for 344 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the loss.

Through 51 career games with the Huskies, Nyhus completed 739-of-1,155 passes (63.9 percent) for 9,649 yards with 66 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. A graduate of the Edwards School of Business who is now pursuing a career in education, he was named an Academic All-Canadian on four occasions and finishes his U of S career having never lost a game at home.

The Riders enter the 2023 offseason with major question marks at quarterback, Cody Fajardo is scheduled to hit free agency after being benched for Mason Fine in the final two games of the season. The team is expected to be involved in the sweepstakes for pending free agent Bo Levi Mitchell but there’s no guarantee he joins the green and white and there will be limited options available on the open market.

By using a valuable negotiation list spot on the homegrown pivot, the Riders are making clear their intention to sign Nyhus and have him be part of the equation heading into next season. The team is very familiar with the U Sports star given his proximity and the fact that he spent training camp with Saskatchewan’s beloved franchise in 2018 as part of the CFL’s quarterback internship program.

Nyhus’ growth as a passer has scouts intrigued. The three-down league experienced a Canadian quarterbacking renaissance this season led by budding superstar Nathan Rourke and rookie first-round pick Tre Ford, who became the first U Sports product to start and win a regular season CFL game since 1985.

The Riders are hoping that the overlooked Nyhus can exceed expectations in a similar way, while also providing a feel-good storyline for their weary fan base to root for.

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