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It's all about family as Troy Stoudermire settles in with Redblacks

A month before training camp began for the Ottawa Redblacks, Troy Stoudermire had already driven north with his fiancée, Whitney, and their three boys: Troy (6), Kashton (3) and London, who turned one Tuesday.

With a new opportunity in hand, Stoudermire wanted to make sure he was at his best, and it would be much easier to do what he does with his family close by. Plus the group wioll grow by one in a bit more than a month, with Whitney expecting on July 1, Troy’s birthday. Another daughter, Taryiah, is still in school and at home with her mother.

“Family is the reason I come out here and play like Superman,” Stoudermire said Tuesday. “When you have things to take care of at home, it shows on the field; you can play as fast as you want. I wanted to be 100 per cent locked-in on football, I don’t want to have to worry about anything else, so I made sure my family was A-OK.”

Stoudermire brings plenty of versatility to the Redblacks. Through his football days, he has been a receiver, defensive back and a successful kickoff/punt returner.

It has been quite the football journey. After getting a long look from the National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals in 2013, he wound up in the Canadian Football League, first with the Saskatchewan Roughriders before he was released in June 2014. He was picked up by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and was there for two seasons, playing in 21 games. In seven games in 2014, Stoudermire led the team with 1,192 all-purpose yards, including 689 yards on 28 kickoff returns and 474 yards on 38 punt returns. In 2015, Stoudermire led the Blue Bombers with 1,674 all-purpose yards, including eight receptions for 40 yards, 47 kickoff returns for 963 yards and 67 punt returns for 677 yards and one touchdown. In Week 15 of that season against the Edmonton Eskimos, he returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown.

Then it was back to the NFL for 2016 training camp as a receiver in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. Released again, he was grabbed back by the Eskimos.

After not playing in 2017, Stoudermire signed with the Calgary Stampeders, winning a Grey Cup ring last season.

During his college days with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, Stoudermire set an NCAA FBS record with 3,615 career return yards. He also set a single-season record for Minnesota with 1,083 kickoff-return yards in 2008. Stoudermire started his collegiate career as a receiver, making 35 receptions for 433 yards and three touchdowns in his first three seasons, before being shifted to defensive back. He had 149 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups and three interceptions.

“I’m a bit of everything,” Stoudermire said. “My whole career, I’ve been doing everything. Even in Winnipeg, I remember playing against the Stamps: I was returning punts, playing defence and receiver in that game. Wherever coach needs me to play, I’m here.”

Asked if he had a preference where he lined up, Stoudermire, smiled, then laughed, before saying: “Wherever I can get on the field.”

Landing again in a CFL city, in Ottawa, he said, is a good thing for him and for his family.

“Most people would think it’s a setback, but I see it as an opportunity,” Stoudermire said. “I’m looking at everything like, ‘I’m here in Canada looking at the beautiful landscape and the adventure … why not bring my family with me?’ I’m lucky to be able to bring my sons so they can see this side of the world. My agent told me (the Redblacks) were really excited about me. You have to make moves for your family. That’s what I did.”

As a Redblack, he hopes to get another Grey Cup ring, though winning as a Stampeder didn’t exactly go as planned since he became extremely sick early in the week and didn’t dress for the game against Ottawa.

“I remember thinking, ‘Man, you’re going to get sick during the Grey Cup?’” Stoudermire said. “I’m from Dallas. I love football. I’ve been playing forever. Getting that championship, getting that ring, meant everything to me. Now I want to go get another one.”

As for the journey that’s taken him to a couple of NFL stops and four CFL West destinations, Stoudermire said; “Being a player and having so much confidence, even when a team tells you no, you never look down on yourself. You say, ‘Thank you for the opportunity’ and continue to believe in yourself. You say, ‘Hey, man, it’s a no this time, but next time it’s not going to be that way.’

“It’s been fun, man. The thing that brings me pleasure is to see my family happy. As long as they’re happy, I’m out here doing whatever I need to do. I’m not selfish or arrogant or anything like that, but I have total confidence in myself to go compete and make a team anywhere. That’s just who I am.”

RISING TO THE DEFENCE: With so many returning players on defence, the Redblacks should be strong on that side of the ball. “We’re fortunate to get those guys re-signed, plus get the whole (defensive) coaching staff back, too,” head coach Rick Campbell said. “We have to make sure we keep growing. We’re expecting big things from our defence.”

THE END AROUND: By CFL rules, each team must start at least seven nationals (Canadians) between offence and defence. Asked if it was possible the Redblacks could start even more than the minimum, at least to begin 2019, Campbell said: “Sure, we’ve done that. It’s not been uncommon for us over the years. We’ve done games where we’ve had eight or nine starting Canadians. We’re going to dress the best football players possible.” … The Redblacks released DB Shamar Busby and DL Zaycoven Henderson and signed Ryan Schmidt (St. Lawrence), who was with the team two years ago. … Details have been announced for the Redblacks QB Club June 11 at The Prescott: 6-8 p.m. with guests including quarterbacks Jonathon Jennings and Dominique Davis … There are plenty of tickets left for Saturday’s pre-season opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at TD Place stadium. The game is also on TV, plus TSN will pick up next Thursday’s pre-season game in Montreal.

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