Roughriders pick Ben Heenan 1st overall for CFL draft

Riders select three others
Reported by News Talk Radio staff
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The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced Saskatchewan native Ben Heenan as their choice for first overall draft pick Thursday morning.

President Jim Hopson introduced offensive lineman Ben Heenan at the Husky Dogs Breakfast in Saskatoon.

"We think Ben's going to be a guy that's going to play a long time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders," Hopson said. "We've had some pretty good luck drafting offensive linemen out of the U of S - a guy named Gene Makowsky."

Heenan got his start in football at Sheldon Williams Collegiate in Regina and played for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

Heenan accepted a Roughriders jersey and was asked about the pressure of being the first overall draft pick.

"No one expects more out of myself than me so I'm just looking forward to staying in Saskatchewan," he told the crowd.

Heenan grew up on a family farm in Grand Coulee just outside Regina.

The Roughriders ended up with three more draft picks by the end of the day.

They selected linebacker Sam Hurl out of the University of Calgary 12th overall after trading their 15th overall pick and next year's second round choice to Calgary. Hurl has twice been named the Canada West Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Dinos with 53 solo tackles last season. He also added 44 assisted tackles.

The Riders also picked up the Stampeders 35th overall pick in the previous deal and selected another linebacker. Sherbrooke's Kevin Regimbald-Gagne is a 1st team CIS All-Canadian and had 40 defensive tackles last season.

With their final pick of the draft, they used it on receiver Ismael Bamba. The Sherbrooke receiver fell to 39th overall despite being ranked s the 11th best prospect going into the draft.

General Manager Brendan Taman said it's always hard to judge how well you did after the draft, "With Ben Heenan, I'm really excited but with other people you judge drafts a year or two after they're done. You can't judge it right now. Everybody in the league is going to say they're happy and they got everybody they wanted but the proof is in the pudding."

Taman says they're not done. He says a lot of talented players didn't get drafted and the Roughriders will likely offer a few of those players invites to training camp.

Edited by News Talk Radio's staff with files from Jamie Nye and Wray Morrison