Last season, having gone 3-11, the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks didn’t have a lot of positives, especially on the offensive side of the ball. With quarterback Matt Nichols only throwing for 544 yards and not scoring a single touchdown, and no 1,000 yard receiver or runner in sight, it was tough for Redblacks fans to figure out who their favourite players were. Fortunately, there were still some flashy players on the team to choose from. DeVonte Dedmon and Brandin Dandridge had their success which brought them to the NFL, so they would have caught the eyes of some fans, but so would have wide receiver Ryan Davis who broke out in his first year in the CFL.
Going into the very first game of the season against the Edmonton Elks in 2021, very few people knew who Ryan Davis was. Players on the Redblacks offence that stuck out on paper included Timothy Flanders, R.J Harris, Daniel Petermann and Anthony Coombs. It seemed as if they would be the leaders on the offence, but after getting the ball 8 times in Edmonton to open up the season, the Auburn Tigers record holder, Ryan Davis became a big part of the offence. Davis finished the season with 55 receptions for 589 yards and two scores, winning the Ottawa Redblacks rookie of the year award, and setting himself up for a bright future, a future which all begins with 2022 Redblacks training camp.
When asked about training camp, a few days into it, Davis told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic that, “Its been fun!” and, “Its exciting to get out on the field with a different group of guys, some from last year too and just to play ball again. Its a start of a new year, improving from last year, definitely exciting. Theres lots of energy thats been flowing around, we just have to get back to playing ball.”
Davis is in for a big year. After having success in year one with the Ottawa Redblacks, and showing glimpses of what is possible, that 1,000 yard marker is definitely something that the league should keep eyes on when it comes to Ryan Davis, and as a collective effort, the Grey Cup is within reach for the Redblacks as a whole, especially with their energy right now. “We are definitely hungry,” Ryan Davis said, “You feel the energy. It just feels like everyone wants to improve off last year, we know it wasn’t our best performance, thats not us. As a whole, we want to change that, as the Redblacks.”
Sure the energy helps, and after bringing in new talent to help last year’s team succeed in 2022, it has gotten much better, but a lot has also been learnt, and developed over the off-season.
Like he did in University, Ryan Davis used this past off-season to better himself, and prepare for what could very well be a breakout season in 2022. At Auburn, among the years which he broke the record for most receptions in Tigers history, Davis had a big jump in production from his sophomore season to his junior season; going from 25 catches for 194 yards and a score to 84 catches for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns. That jump in production is something that can be possible once again after his first season in the CFL because of the differences between year one and year two for Davis.
“What are the differences?”, you may ask…
“The fact that I got the experience last year and be able to go into the off-season knowing what to expect. Last year I didn’t know what to expect. The rules, the waggle and everything. Its one thing to hear about it and then doing it. Over time I got better and better, and going into the off-season I watched film to see what can make me a better player, and working on those things during the off-season, bringing it to training camp, I am bringing all of it to fruition.”
If everything goes as planned with the CFL, and the CFLPA’s negotiations regarding the CBA, Davis and the Ottawa Redblacks will have their first pre-season game on Friday in Ottawa against the Toronto Argonauts. It will be the start of a new year, and what looks to be a good year, not only for Ryan Davis, but the Ottawa Redblacks as a whole.