Since losing wide receiver and kick return specialist Diontae Spencer to the NFL in the 2018-19 off-season the CFL’s Ottawa RedBlacks have been searching for their next Swiss army knife player that can play all over the place. Spencer made a large impact over the two seasons he spent in the nation’s capital on both offence and special teams, enough to break a professional football record for 496 all-purpose yards in a single game against Hamilton in 2017. The Ottawa RedBlacks have since brought in players like Ryan Lankford, R.J Shelton, Stefan Logan, Micah Wright, Rafael Araujo Lopes and Troy Stoudermire to fill that role however the only player to bring that exact spark that Diontae Spencer brought to the 2017 and 2018 Ottawa RedBlacks has been DeVonte Dedmon.
In just 5 games with the Ottawa RedBlacks in the 2019 CFL regular season following a pre-season where he returned a kickoff for a touchdown Dedmon touched the ball 42 times for a grand total of 939 yards and two special teams touchdowns that he scored in the same game against the Montreal Alouettes. Averaging 22.3 yards per all-purpose touch Dedmon was bound to make a big play every time he had the ball in 2019, and in limited snaps having injured himself on two instances there is a lot of potential coming from the 25 year old Williamsburg, Virginia native.
When talking about his first year in Ottawa and what he was able to accomplish in just a span of 5 games Redblacks’ DeVonte Dedmon had said, “It was amazing. It’s not everyday that a kid from William and Mary gets an opportunity to play professional ball at that high of a level so I was extremely thankful for the opportunity and being able to have some success like I did was crazy. I really realized how the Canadian game is built for players like me that can stretch the field and love doing the extra work.”
For Dedmon though, if he hadn’t scored that punt return touchdown in the pre-season opener against the Hamilton Tiger Cats he likely wouldn’t have made it on the Ottawa RedBlacks final roster to start the season. Starting training camp and the pre-season wearing the number 79 as a wide receiver it made him hungry. He was ready to show everyone what he was all about and did exactly that. He tells his side of the story, “When I saw number 79 in my locker I said to myself ‘I got something to prove’ and got to work.” Dedmon said, “I was very thankful for the opportunity so you’re not going to hear me say anything about a number or anything like that but you’ll see what I have to say about it on the field and in this case I scored a TD and got a new number so it worked in my favour and if I have to wear another number to be able to play again I will do it because I just want to get back to Ottawa and play football with my teammates again.”
It has been 21 months since DeVonte Dedmon last hit the field against the B.C Lions at TD Place in the 2019 CFL season, and there is no question that he has missed everything about being a part of the Ottawa RedBlacks organization. He explained to me in an interview this week, “Football brings some personality out of everybody. Players, coaches, front office personnel, the staff at the stadium and even the fans. It brings us all closer and gives us all something to talk about and gather around. It has been too long since I walked around the stadium before a practice, I haven’t said good morning to my coaches in too long so I am super excited to be back in Ottawa and be around my teammates and the entire organization. Its going to be amazing when we touch foot on the field again.” Although the last time that Dedmon stepped foot on the field at TD Place he was a kickoff and punt return specialist and only had 4 touches on the offensive side of the ball, he is set to have a big season on not only special teams as a returner but also on offence at wide receiver and slot back. At William and Mary, DeVonte Dedmon caught 152 passes for 2,037 yards and 20 touchdowns making himself a top 10 receiver in Tribe athletics history and making him a reliable option for Matt Nichols in his first season as the Redblacks signal caller. Dedmon expresses himself as a receiver, “I don’t want to be a one trick pony.” explaining, “I know I can do a lot more than just return kicks and even though I can make a huge impact doing exactly that I have been grinding a lot this off-season to make an impact on offence too and I can be a difference maker in our offence.”
The offence that Dedmon is referring to is currently led by skill position veterans Brad Sinopoli, RJ Harris, Jalen Saunders Timothy Flanders, Brendan Gillanders and Anthony Coombs who all go alongside quarterback Matt Nichols. Dedmon has been talking with a lot of his teammates and coaches over the off-season and is not only excited to be back with them but believes they have something special coming to Redblacks fans in 2021. “We had a really special bond nearing the end of the 2019 season.” Dedmon mentioned, “In practice we were all playing well together and were able to build connections with each other to the extent where we called each other out and the veteran guys were teaching the younger ones. I think that with the group we have coming back and the players we brought in we can do a lot of big things. Just talking with my teammates and coaches I’m so ready to come up and work.”
Dedmon and the Redblacks will be coming up to Ottawa to work in a few weeks now, with training camp currently scheduled for early July and a season starting in the first week of August the season can’t come any sooner and Ottawa RedBlacks fans should be ecstatic about players like Dedmon coming in for their second season. The roster is filled with younger players, having Dedmon, Jerminic Smith, Rafael Araujo Lopes, Detrez Newsome, Taryn Christion, Caleb Evans and Chase Litton all on the offensive side of the ball around an experienced quarterback like Matt Nichols and experienced receivers like Sinopoli and Harris, there is plenty of potential in house. Dedmon said, “I’m excited to learn more this year. With a new staff and a new quarterback, I can’t wait to sit down and talk to Nichols and learn from him and his experience in the CFL.”