The long wait is over.
The Roughriders’ first overall pick, Josiah St. John, was signed and he participated in his first full practice on Monday.
After sitting through three Roughrider games, two in the pre-season, perhaps no one is happier than he is to start playing.
“I was eager and itching, watching the game on TV was like ‘man I want to be there so bad’. I’m just happy to be here now, though,” St. John said after running a few extra laps on the field.
Missing out on those games, paired with his former University of Oklahoma teammates also starting the pre-season, lead St. John to talk to his agent about getting a deal done.
“I said, man, we got to get something worked out, because this has gone on a little too long,” he said.
After the game on Thursday, head coach Chris Jones confirmed the signing and mentioned that he thought St. John looked to be in better shape than he was when the team first worked him out ahead of the CFL draft on May 10.
“There’s no doubt about it, he’s at a good starting point. We watched him there after practice going against some very good players and he’s doing some good things,” Jones said.
Jones wouldn’t say when he thought St. John might see some playing time – having missed five weeks of practice. He emphasized that the six-foot-five offensive lineman is new to the league and to the team.
“He’s a rookie, guys,” Jones said. “He’s being asked to go learn a playbook, a professional playbook for the first time … We’re going to take it slow with him, when he’s ready to play he’ll play.”
That same playbook had even some of the veteran offensive linemen struggling a bit. Brendon LaBatte said there was a lot for them to learn at training camp.
“I’ve been doing this eight – this is my ninth year, eight full ones, and I had my hands full to get it down, so I’m sure as a new guy coming to the pro game there’ll be an adjustment period for him there, just to get the playbook and all the terminology and that sort of stuff down,” LaBatte said.
As for if there are any hard feelings against St. John for holding out, LaBatte said there isn’t, but there could be some pizza on the line.
“When you’re first overall and you hold out for more money, the tax man’s going to come a little early and we’re going to have to get some of that,” he said with a laugh.
- The Roughriders traded Shawn Lemon for quarterback Mitchell Gale and offensive lineman Matt Sewell over the weekend. Gale practiced with the team today, but Sewell did not. Reports say Sewell is toying with retirement because he’d rather stay close to home. Jones would not comment on his status.