The past two CFL seasons have not been great for the Ottawa Redblacks. In 2019, after losing in the Grey Cup the previous year the Redblacks went 3-15 and missed the playoffs for the first time since the inaugural season in 2014, then this year the team sits at 2-10 with just two games remaining in the season, putting them out of playoff contention, but despite the team losing 25 of the last 30 games they’ve played there is no denying that there has been a lot of positives from the Ottawa Redblacks. One of the biggest and most influential positives that have come out of the last two seasons for the Ottawa Redblacks has been the discovery of slotback receiver and kickoff return specialist DeVonte Dedmon from William and Mary University.
Jean-Marc Edmé found Dedmon and signed him following his 2018 season with the Tribe in which he had 605 yards receiving and 6 touchdown catches. Over his career with the Tribe he gained an all-purpose 3,825 yards and scored 23 touchdowns in 44 games played, putting his name in the same category as some W&M greats like Mike Tomlin, Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Sean McDermott, but just because he had success in University in the CAA doesn’t mean he had it easy and could just walk on to the Ottawa Redblacks. DeVonte Dedmon came to Ottawa Redblacks training camp in 2019 and the team told him to pack for just two weeks. Going into the opportunity Dedmon had the impression that they saw him as just a camp body, someone to catch kicks and passes during training camp, and with defensive back Troy Stoudermire and receiver Ryan Lankford on the roster with returning experience in the CFL it didn’t look like there was much for Dedmon in Ottawa and that he may have just been a camp body. He said in a podcast with Jordan Zlomislic of JZ Media, “I was told to pack for two weeks and I was like ‘what?’ because the season is 18 games, and that made me like a body for training camp and then I told my dad I was number 79 too and you could hear it in his voice, like thats not a good look but he pretty much told me to do what I do like I’ve done all my life and it will all work out.”
For Dedmon, it did all end up working out. On his first touch in the CFL, he went for a 100 yard kickoff return touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2019 pre-season. The big play, and a good training camp gave him a spot on the roster for the 2019 season, however he did suffer an injury during the pre-season which sidelined him until week 6 when the Redblacks traveled to Winnipeg. He ended up playing in the week 6 game against the Blue Bombers as well as 4 other games that season and in the 5 games played he had over 940 yards and two return touchdowns on just 43 touches. DeVonte Dedmon averaged 22 yards every time he laid hands on a football in the time played with the Redblacks in 2019 and despite suffering injuries the Redblacks wanted another look at Dedmon moving forward.
At the end of the 2019 CFL season he was 23 years old and looked to be a fresh player they’d like to keep around for a number of years, but unfortunately the unexpected happened. The 2020 CFL season was cancelled, and everything that the Redblacks may have had in mind for the 2020 season was pretty well scrapped, except for the idea of having DeVonte Dedmon in Ottawa, that was able to still happen for the 2021 CFL season which began on August 7th, 2021. Dedmon signed a one year contract for the 2021 CFL season and has made the most of it, adding two more return touchdowns to his stat line as well as a rushing touchdown he has been looked at to be one of the most electric players in the CFL today, and potentially history if he continues on the path he is on. This 2021 season, Dedmon has 1,914 all-purpose yards, a league lead and that is in just 9 games played. That is an average of 213 yards per game played, insane numbers for a skill position player like himself, and Ottawa Redblacks fans can get used to those numbers and the big plays he makes and he on Tuesday signed a one year extension with the Redblacks, locking him up in the nation’s capital for the 2022 CFL season next year. The contract which was done between Dedmon and interim assistant general manager Jean-Marc Edmé as well as Jeremy Snyder marks the biggest move thus far for the Redblacks since the firing of general manager Marcel Desjardins and it should be a forecast as to what is to come with the Redblacks organization as they look to trend upwards moving forward.
In the JZ Media podcast “Talking Phresh” with Jordan Zlomislic and Ottawa barber Jean Phresh which was published on Sunday October 31st DeVonte Dedmon told Zlomislic after being asked about NFL dreams and aspirations the following: “Ottawa is my home. I love the city, and I am blessed to have the opportunity I have to be here with this team.” and with him staying in his “hometown” of Ottawa, Ontario there is only more success to be expected from him and the Ottawa Redblacks moving forward. Jeremy Snyder also spoke out about the transaction, “We’re excited to keep DeVonte in red and black for next season,” said REDBLACKS Interim General Manager Jeremy Snyder. “DeVonte’s skill set is special and has the reputation of altering the game when he is on the field. He is a true threat with the ball in his hands to score at any time. This is the first step of many to build for a better 2022.”