Saint Mary’s Huskies hire long-time CFL assistant coach Mark Nelson, former Argos DB Jermaine Gabriel

Graphic: 3DownNation (Photos: Scott Grant/

Saint Mary’s University has added a recognizable to their coaching staff, hiring long-time  CFL assistant Mark Nelson as their special teams coordinator and linebackers coach.

Nelson last coached in the CFL  in 2021 as special teams coordinator with the Toronto Argonauts. He spent last season on the coaching staff of Carleton University, though he attended training camp with the B.C. Lions as a guest coach.

The 66-year-old has been coaching since 1992, spending three seasons with the Edmonton Elks overseeing linebackers and running backs. In 1995, he served as linebackers coach for the San Antonio Texans in their lone CFL season, before coaching the defensive line of the Toronto Argonauts in 1996.

Beginning in 1997, Nelson spent 12 seasons in the U.S. college ranks, including stops at Valdosta State, Arkansas Tech, Baylor, Tulsa, and Louisville. He returned north as defensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2009, later logging stints with Edmonton and Montreal.

In 2014, Nelson was hired as defensive coordinator of the expansion Ottawa Redblacks, winning his third Grey Cup title in 2016. He spent six seasons with the team, but was demoted to linebackers coach in 2018.

Nelson played seven seasons in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders, excelling on special teams from 1980 to 1986. His father, Roger, was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for Edmonton from 1954 to 1967, while his son, Kyle, played 11 seasons in the NFL as a long snapper, most notably with the San Francisco 49ers.

Joining the coaching staff alongside Nelson will be new defensive backs coach Jermaine Gabriel.

Gabriel was originally selected in the second round, 17th overall, in the 2013 CFL Draft by Toronto and went on to play eight CFL seasons with the Argonauts, Edmonton Elks and Montreal Alouettes. He suited up in 100 career games as a safety, registering 239 defensive tackles, 37 special teams tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and a touchdown.

The Scarborough, Ont. native spent two collegiate seasons at Bishop’s University, before finishing up his amateur career with the Calgary Colts of the Canadian Junior Football League.

Saint Mary’s posted a 3-4 record last season, missing the AUS playoffs. They are entering their second year under head coach Steve Sumarah, who returned to the program last year after having previously spent 14 seasons at the school from 1998 to 2011, winning two Vanier Cups as offensive coordinator.