It all happened very quickly for Roughrider safety Kevin Francis.
In the span of about a week, he found out he would be considered a Canadian in the CFL, declared for the supplemental draft, worked out with Chris Jones and was selected by the Riders in the draft.
About three days after that, he was in Saskatoon at training camp.
“At first I didn’t think it was possible,” said the Toronto-born, New York-raised Francis.
“I was optimistic and I kept my options open, and when I got the call, I went with it,” he said.
The call came from Chris Jones at about 10:30 at night on Wednesday of that week. Jones was driving to Saskatchewan on Friday, so on Thursday Francis was on a plane to Chattanooga to work out for him. He was drafted the following Tuesday.
“He’s certainly a great athlete,” Jones said when asked about what he saw in Francis. “He’s got all the physical tools in the world. He’s still learning to play football like we play it up here, he played receiver in college, so there’s a transition period.”
A transition because instead of playing on offence like he did in college, Jones asked him to play defence. Francis was game to try it, in part because he played safety in college. But Francis admits there are some differences between the American game he’s used to playing and the one he’s playing now.
“The game speed is a little different, route concepts is a little different out here, being implemented with the waggle guys is a little different from high school,” Francis explained. “But not that much.”
“The size of the field is definitely a little bigger,” he added. “But the way our defence is set up, how fast and physical we play, you really don’t feel it when you’re running.”
Francis played his first regular season game with the Riders on June 30, recording one defensive tackle.
“I got some stuff I have to improve on, but overall I think I did pretty good, pretty decent.”
Francis also has a popular number on his side. The last Canadian safety to play for the Roughriders and wear number 27 was Glen Suitor. Suitor holds the Roughrider record for career interceptions.
- Brendon LaBatte returned to practice after tweaking something Tuesday morning.
- First overall pick Josiah St. John rolled his ankle during one-on-ones in practice yesterday. He is day-to-day.
- Jonathan Williams will be out for some time after what Chris Jones called a “significant” injury.