Nicholas Dheilly was a force to be reckoned with in the Saskatchewan Roughriders final pre-season game on Friday night.
“My mentality coming into last game was I was going to get a lot of reps because we had a few defensive ends down and I saw an opportunity – when the opportunity was there, I took it,” said Dheilly.
After a solid training camp, the 24-year-old Regina product had four tackles and a sack against the BC Lions, solidifying his spot on the team for the 2022 season after originally joining the ranks near the end of the 2021 season as a free agent.
“He knew he was on the bubble when he came in,” said Riders head coach Craig Dickenson. “He had an outstanding camp and really did everything we asked of him and more. He’s a guy that made a big impression on the coaching staff throughout camp and especially that last game.”
“I really wasn’t stressing too much because you come in here and just got to give it every day and not stress about those things,” said Dheilly. “It was nice to make sure you’re on the team but I wasn’t stressing too hard.”
After growing up in Regina, Dheilly went on to play for his hometown University of Regina Rams, where he was named the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2016. He then had stints with the CJFL’s Okanagan Sun and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, before being drafted into the CFL by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2020, appearing in four games last season.
“What it taught me there was to be a professional,” said Dheilly. “When I first came into the league, it was always go one hundred per cent. But I’m realizing, to make a team, you’ve got to show yourself as a professional, know your stuff, know the playbook and just act the right way.”
And after attending many Rider games as a fan growing up, wearing the green and white jersey as a player now means more to Dheilly that he ever imagined.
“There’s a lot of pressure on it as well because everybody knows your name and everybody wants you to succeed,” he said. “(I’ve) always dreamed of this and even being here right now doesn’t even feel real.”