Dhel Duncan-Busby is hoping to catch on with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The rookie CFLer was the team’s third-round (23rd overall) selection in the 2024 draft and is appearing in his first camp. 
“I think it has been going pretty well. Where they have me starting out is kind of similar to U.S. football – just having me on the outside and being on the line of scrimmage is pretty nice. It has been a pretty good transition so far,” Duncan-Busby said.

But the fact the Vancouver product is playing professional football is a surprise even for him due to the fact growing up, he thought his future was on the basketball court. “I grew up playing basketball, my parents were both basketball coaches so that’s why I thought I was going to go with basketball but then football blessed me,” Duncan-Busby said.

He and his family moved to Toronto when he was three, where he got a small taste of the CFL.
“It was just basketball the whole time. I think I went to a couple Argos games and did some flag football when I was younger – I think my mom just wanted to distract me a little bit but I went to a couple Argos games and that’s about it though,” Duncan-Busby said.

When he was around 14, he and his family moved to Ohio, where he wanted to attend the Spire Insitute in Geneva.
“It meant the world (my family came with me). They uprooted themselves – my sister didn’t have much of a choice because she was so young at the time. It just kind of worked out in my favour and super glad they could be a part of my journey,” Duncan-Busby said.

When that didn’t happen, he went to Madison High School in Madison, Ohio. It was there, he would first get asked to play football.
“When I first got there – the first week or so – the head football coach came up to me and was like, ‘Have you ever played football before?’ and I said, ‘Nope, I have never played football before,’ and he was like you should come give it a try. When I went there it was the fall so I was able to watch some of the games and it was fun being in that environment because being in Toronto, it was just basketball so it was kind of cool,” Duncan-Busby said.

After his senior year in high school, he had to make a choice of if he would continue with basketball or football at the next level.
“I didn’t get a whole lot of offers for basketball. I did – I got a couple Div-III and stuff like that but football was the new thing for me so I wanted to keep it rolling so after track season, that’s when I was like I’m going to go and try to play football,” Duncan-Busby said.

He eventually played four seasons with the Bemidji State Beavers and was a consistent threat in his final three seasons – 49 catches for 725 yards and five touchdowns in 2021, 48 catches for 896 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022 and 49 catches for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2023. “It was so much fun. It was great being with the guys. We were able to do a lot of things that Bemidji has never done before so it’s kind of cool to be the first to do something. It was a lot of fun out there,” Duncan-Busby said.

But with the 6’3”, 210-pound pass-catcher not familiar with the CFL game, he wasn’t aware his passport could present him with an opportunity.
That was until his teammate Brendan Beaulieu, who signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2023, explained to him how being a Canadian could work in his favour. “It was just more of an opportunity. Trying to play down south is a heck of a thing to try to do but it was great I get this opportunity and I am super glad to be here,” Duncan-Busby said.

He attended the CFL national combine and eventually the time came for the CFL draft.
“I had it on my phone. I had just refreshed it on my phone and there was nothing left and Saskatchewan was on the clock. About two seconds later, another buddy I was with refreshed it and my name came up and then coach Mace gave me a call. It was honestly so surreal – it was so much fun and very relieving just to know where I was going to go because that was a big stress of mine because I didn’t know if I was going to stay down south or come up north so very relieving,” Duncan-Busby said.

Now with the team, he has a lot of great resources to learn from including Kian Schaffer-Baker, Mitch Picton, Sam Emilus and Brayden Lenius.
“They have been really good talking to me and just helping me out with certain things. If I have any questions, they are always there to help me out with it. So far, it has been nice because the first three days here were the same three installs we got in rookie camp so going from her eon forward, it will be good and I will have to lean on them a little more,” Duncan-Busby said.

The rookie is expected to get some reps in the team’s first preseason game on Monday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

“No dropped passes and no missed assignments. A lot of it for me right now is just a mental thing and just knowing what I have to do out there and make as few mental mistakes as possible,” Duncan-Busby said.

And he’s also looking forward to getting his first taste of what Rider Nation brings on game day.
“I hear they are very, very wild. I hear they have the best fans out here and I want to see it. I love it,” Duncan-Busby said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here