Two Saskatchewan football players are getting an early Christmas present this year.
Former Saskatoon Hilltops running back Andre Lalonde and Regina Thunder receiver Mitch Thompson both signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday. It's just one more accomplishment in what has been a great year for both players.
This summer, both Lalonde and Thompson attended Riders training camp as juniors player.
After returning to the Hilltops, Lalonde went on to break the team's single-season rushing record with 1,367 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. The 22-year-old Zenon Park product was later named the top offensive player in Canadian junior football.
Despite all his accomplishments in 2013, Lalonde said he's most excited to have a chance to play for his hometown team.
"I've been to so many Rider game in that field," Lalonde said. "Going to the Grey Cup, I was at that game in the stands, and all that excitement from the fans is just unreal. Hopefully I can crack that roster and play in Mosaic Stadium in front of 40,000 screaming fans."
Lalonde is already drawing comparisons to another hometown Roughrider - veteran running back Neil Hughes. And with last year's Grey Cup MVP, Kory Sheets, considering his options in the NFL, the starting running back position may be up for grabs.
"Well I'm not sure about taking Kory Sheets' spot," Lalonde said, laughing. "I think if I make the team my role will probably be a little bit different than that. It will be more blocking and special teams."
Thompson, who also attended training camp with the Riders, was a member of the CJFL Canadian Bowl champion Regina Thunder.
The Regina product caught 35 passes for 526 yards and five touchdowns last season.
The Riders also announced they signed University of Alberta linebacker Tyler Greenslade. The Edmonton product finished last season with 48 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble.
Lalonde will join Saskatoon Morning host Leisha Grebinski at 7:30 a.m. CST on Friday.