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Athletic Versatility Allows Riders Defensive Lineman Jordan Reaves To Thrive In The CFL

Jordan Reaves | Defensive Lineman | Saskatchewan Roughriders

It was a fun process. I’ve always prided myself in being one of the top athletes of any caliber or player. In saying that, for them to move me to so many different positions to take a real look at me further confirmed my versatility.

Jordan Reaves

Defensive Lineman

Saskatchewan Roughriders

× The interview with Jordan Reaves was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Your family are no strangers to the Canadian sports scene. Your father, Willard Reaves, was a four time league All-Star, named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player and won the Grey Cup with Winnipeg in 1984. Your brother Ryan plays in the NHL for the Vegas Golden Knights. What was life like growing up in a household where 3 members went on to become professional athletes?

It was a constant fight at every corner to see who the toughest was.

Being an athletic household we were in constant competition whether it was playing 21 outside or playing with action figures as kids we were always trying to be the best.

I have kept that mentality throughout my entire life.

Despite currently playing professional football, you played basketball for ten years leading up to the switch to football. What made you choose basketball over football?

When I was in Europe playing pro basketball I dealt with a lot of shady people.

A couple of guys tried to act as my agent and cut side deals with teams. After a few months, it took a toll on me always being lied to and travelling places that didn’t know who I was. I ended up coming back home and was in a rut.

At the time, I was just training to train not for anything in particular until I ran into my neighbor who was a CFL veteran.

We got to talking and one thing led to the other. He talked me into giving a shot at the pros so I got back to training for football and fell back in love with it.

Your path to the CFL has been unlike many others, having not played college football before making it to the CFL. What went into the decision to take a shot at the pros and how have you adjusted to it?

The decision came from the above story.

I felt like I was just training to train not for anything real. Once I got the opportunity I went to the regional combine in Edmonton where I placed top 5 in almost every category and got a look from Winnipeg.

I was there as a receiver and made it to the last rounds of cuts, where they called me in 2 minutes before the final cuts to tell me I was just too raw to be on the team.

However, they said I was about a month out of training for a roster spot. Instead of letting me develop, they released me which ignited a fire like I’ve never felt.

That offseason, I sacrificed everything to make the team the next year which is when Chris Jones brought me to Saskatchewan as a defensive lineman where I have loved it ever since.

You were initially signed by Winnipeg as a receiver, then switched to defensive back then finally to defensive end. What was this ever changing process like in the beginning before settling in on the defensive line, especially since pros do not change their position often?

It was a fun process.

I’ve always prided myself in being one of the top athletes of any calibre or player.

In saying that, for them to move me to so many different positions to take a real look at me further confirmed my versatility.

It was an amazing experience learning from each positional coach and from the vets at those positions.

I am always excited for a new challenge. 

What does it mean to you and your family for both you and your brother to have become professional athletes during the same time frame?

It means the world to us.

My brother was and still is my greatest motivation and role model so for me to share the limelight with him is a dream come true.

I am so glad to see both of our development in our respective sports, and we keep that competitive drive alive with one another. 

What has been your favourite part about transitioning back to football, especially now that you are in the pros?

Being able to knock people out legally and get paid to do it (laughs).

When I played basketball I was very very aggressive and fouled out almost every game.

Once I started running on turf again and felt the vibes in the locker room, I felt I was right back at home where I belonged.

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was fantastic to interview Saskatchewan Roughriders Defensive Lineman Jordan Reaves. Growing up as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan, there was a lot of buzz around the city when he got the chance to sign with Winnipeg initially, especially since his dad was a HOF running back for them during the franchise’s golden era. Jordan has taken the road less travelled in becoming a pro football player without having played high school or college, but his athleticism has allowed him to become a regular from the Riders defensive line. I look forward to seeing his continued success in the CFL and continuing to make the Reaves family name associated with greatness in sports. 

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