Canadian linebacker Stevens not closing the door on possibly playing in CFL this year

Canadian linebacker Stevens not closing the door on possibly playing in CFL this year

He’s on the lookout for a new school but Deshawn Stevens isn’t closing the door on playing in the CFL this year.

The six-foot-two, 255-pound linebacker is currently in the NCAA transfer portal following five years at Maine. Ideally, the Toronto native wants to attend a bigger school and improve his prospects for the 2022 NFL draft.

But Stevens is also a top-rated player for the ‘21 CFL draft Tuesday night and said if the NCAA transfer process doesn’t pan out, he’d play football in Canada rather than return to Maine.

Stevens was ranked No. 20 on the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-20 prospects list for the draft.

“It’s been a great five years (at Maine),” Stevens said during a recent video conference. “For me, it’s about my career and using the time I have left to try and pursue a high level of football.

It just gives me a better opportunity down the line for pursuing the NFL.”

Stevens enjoyed a stellar 2018 season when he registered 120 tackles (17 for a loss), nine sacks, two fumble recoveries. He was named Maine’s top defensive player and helped the school capture a CAA title.

But Stevens suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Maine’s 2019 opener before the Black Bears postponed the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stevens finally retuned to action March 6 when the school kicked off an abbreviated schedule, finishing 2-2.

Stevens had a team-high 36 tackles this spring for Maine.

“We interviewed him and he’s a serious young man,” Winnipeg general manager Kyle Walters said. “He’s a big, thick, traditional American linebacker that can come downhill and he can strike.

“He can stone offensive linemen and can strike running backs. When he gets that big frame moving he can cover some ground too. He’s a good football player.”

And Walters understands Stevens’ decision to enter the transfer portal.

“He loves football, takes it serious, he’s got a plan for what he wants to do,” Walters said. “Like most kids going back to school, they would like an opportunity to see if there’s NFL interest a year from now and you can’t blame them for that.”

Athletes are creatures of habit, with the vast majority craving continuity. Stevens admits while there’s plenty of uncertainty in his life currently, he’s rolling with it.

“It’s part of the process,” he said. “However, the thing that doesn’t change is the work I have to put in every single day.

“I can only control what I can control and every day that’s, ‘How do I get better,’ whether it’s on the football field, physically, mentally … how I put myself together as a complete athlete or as a person. Whenever the opportunity does present itself, I can make sure I’m ready to be ready to go right from the start.”

Stevens is the second Canadian at Maine to enter the transfer portal this off-season. Liam Dobson, a six-foot-three, 340-pound offensive lineman from Ottawa, recently transferred to Texas State.

Dobson finished ranked No. 12 on the final CFL scouting bureau.

“My name is in the portal so I’m waiting to see what opportunities are presented to me,” Stevens said. “I feel like life is too short not to pursue the dreams you want and I’m in that situation now.”

On Tuesday night, Stevens could be taken by the Toronto Argonauts, the team he often watched play at Rogers Centre. Stevens also volunteered at the 100th Grey Cup game played there in 2012, which saw the Argos capture a 35-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders before over 53,000 spectators.

“You don’t forget those moments,” he said. “Like this is what I can really obtain and pursue in my mind, whether it’s here in Canada or elsewhere.

“I want to go for it. This is all I’ve been blessed with and I’m lucky enough to really get to see for myself. That’s what I don’t want to take for granted.””

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly referred to Maine’s varsity team as the “Golden Bears.”


Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read