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The Road Less Travelled Led Toronto Argonaut Shane Richards To The Top Of The CFL Draft

Shane Richards | Offensive Lineman | Toronto Argonauts

I’m grateful for everything that happened. My story is different from many others and this is my journey after all.

Shane Richards

Offensive Lineman

Toronto Argonauts

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

You came to Canada from Jamaica, living in Calgary where you played junior football for the Colts. What was it about your high school experience that made you continue to pursue football at the junior level?

I had a lot of success with football in high school.

Originally, I signed a letter of intent with the Calgary Dinos, but I wasn’t the best student so that fell through.

After speaking with Adam Blasetti, who was coaching with the Colts at the time, I decided to make the best out of it to see what would happen.

Now, here we are.

After playing for the Colts, you navigated your way into the United States to eventually earn a scholarship with the Oklahoma State University Cowboys in the NCAA D1. What was it about your experience before OSU that prepared you to earn a scholarship there?

Before OSU I went to junior college in Roswell New Mexico, “New Mexico Military Institute”.

I learned a lot there because I didn’t know how to be a good student academically or be a disciplined student. I also got a better understanding of how I learned and understood school material.

I think that along with a lot more things and tricks I learned there really help prepare me for OSU.

Was it a difficult transition to go from junior football in Canada, to being one of the only Canadians on the roster?

No, I felt good as far as knowledge of the game goes. I felt comfortable overall.

However, the speed of the game was significantly faster and your thought process has to be a lot faster.

After leaving my junior college, I was much more focused at OSU since I knew I didn’t have much time to make decisions.

I tried to stay focused as much as possible in school, on the field and off the field.

You have had a close relationship during your playing career with Coach Adam Blasetti from the Calgary Colts. Talk about the impact he has had on you as a player and a person.

We have had a pretty great relationship so far.

He helped me through pretty much every stage of my football career.

I consult him on most, if not every football decision.

He’s helped me in more ways than I can remember and is someone I will always keep in my corner.

You were selected 1st overall in the 2019 CFL draft by the Toronto Argonauts. How have you handled being taken as the highest pick in Canadian pro football? What does it mean for you to have taken the road less travelled, being a Canadian at a major D1 school to being at this point in your pro football journey with Toronto?

I think I’m still trying to do that.

After starting my first game, I got hurt and that took me out for most of the year.

To follow that up, we have been living during a pandemic so I haven’t had a chance to show my worth yet.

That’s what I’m looking forward to next year. I’ve been training this whole year so I’m ready for that.

For me, my path has given me knowledge and perspective from the first time ever picking up a football in high school to playing for team Canada in Kuwait, NMMI in New Mexico, to playing at OSU.

Even after that, I was redshirted my senior year and then pulled my groin in my redshirt year and was still drafted first overall in the CFL.

I’m grateful for everything that happened. My story is different from many others and this is my journey after all. 

Matias Bueno Matias's Final Thoughts

It was very insightful to speak with Shane Richards about his journey from playing high school and junior football in Calgary to becoming the first overall pick in the 2019 CFL Draft. Shane has had a very unique path to the league, and one that is uncommon especially for players who get picked first overall in the draft. His ability to learn on the fly, mould himself into a better student academically and excel at football is an inspiration to all players who started their football journeys late. 

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