The Saskatchewan Roughriders began practicing June 2 at Griffith’s Stadium with a few familiar faces on the field. Current Huskies quarterback Drew Burko, former defensive lineman David Rybinski and other Huskies players took part in the training camp.
Rybinski believes that his experience with the Huskies football program paved the way for his success in the professional league.
“The Huskies program definitely prepared me well. A lot of the things that we do in our practices I see us doing out here,” he said.
Rybinski believes the Huskies coaching staff are a large reason that he and other former Huskies have made an impact in the professional league.
“Our coaches — I call them researchers — they’re always out trying to find new drills, new plays, new things to bring in,” Rybinski said. “They’ve gone out to schools in the states… and they’ve brought back stuff that has really helped with the transition for both Levi [Steinhauer] and myself.”
Although Rybinski sees similarities between the two programs, playing with the Riders has been a step up.
“Everything just happens a little bit quicker. Guys are a little bit stronger, a little bit faster with their feet,” he said.
Rybinski said it doesn’t matter which league he’s playing in, as long as he’s playing football he’s happy.
Burko practiced with the Riders as part of the CFL non-import quarterback development program and will be returning to play with the Huskies for the upcoming season.
This was Burko’s first time at a professional camp. He learned a lot from the experience and is looking forward to applying what he learned on field with the Huskies.
“I got tips on my throwing motion that’ll help me out. Just a lot of little things that’ll help me out when I come back to the Huskies,” he said.
Practicing with the Riders was a change in calibre which added to Burko’s perspective of how to play the game. The main difference he saw between the Riders and the Huskies was the work they put in off the field and their understanding of the intricacies of the game.
“How they prepare, how much film they watch and how quick they understand what’s going on with the other team and with their own team,” Burko said.
Burko felt supported by everyone around him at training camp.
“All the quarterbacks helped me a lot. The quarterback coach Khari Jones helped me a lot. The whole group was a big help for me,” he said.
Rather than being intimidated by taking the field with big-name players like Darian Durant, Geroy Simon and Weston Dressler, Burko says he tried to focus on the ball and not who was out there with him.
“I tried not to think about it too much I just tried to go out there and play, have some fun,” Burko said.
Burko is looking forward to getting back on the field with the Huskies and is optimistic about their upcoming season.
“We’re going to have a great season. We’ve got a lot of returning guys coming back so I think we should be really good,” he said.
The Huskies return to Griffiths Stadium August 23 to play the UBC Thunderbirds.
Photo: Jordan Dumba