Hudson rejoining Lions for final season after CFL tryout

Ricardo HudsonYork Lions receiver Ricardo Hudson is returning for another season after his bid to make the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders ended June 1, just before the team’s first exhibition game.

Ricardo HudsonHudson, a third-year sociology major in York’s Faculty of Arts, said he spoke with Coach Tom Gretes immediately after his stint in Calgary and will rejoin the Lions for his fifth and final year of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) eligibility. “We’re looking for good things this year,” he said of the Lions’ prospects for the 2006 season. “I hear we have a good crop of recruits coming, so things are looking good.” The Lions, who finished with a 3-5 record in 2005, open training camp Aug. 23.

Above, left and right: Ricardo Hudson

Hudson was interviewed by a local television crew just before his Canadian Football League (CFL) camp experience ended and said he could use another season’s work before possibly trying out with the Stampeders again next year. “It was a great feeling to know you’re lining up with guys from Division I schools in the US and professionals from the National Football League and the CFL,” he said. “It was great to be able to learn from them and, right now, I realize what I have to work on.”

Hudson said he’s looking forward to working in the weight room again with Lions’ strength and conditioning coach Steve Lidstone. “He was great for me and did amazing things to help me get over that hump,” Hudson said.

The key thing that set him apart from his competition at camp, Hudson said, was “explosiveness” in running passing routes and executing plays. “It’s not necessarily physical speed, it’s more of a technical speed,” Hudson explained. “They expect you to know offensive and defensive systems and be able to go out and do it. There’s not a long learning curve and guys from Division I schools and the NFL [National Football League] have a lot more training in doing that. You have to be mentally faster.”

Jim Barker, Stampeders general manager, said Hudson did well in a camp that was full of strong competition at the receiver position. “He asserted himself very well and he learned a lot,” Barker said, “but there are a lot of things up here [in the CFL] that are different than the CIS.

“We had a lot of talented receivers in camp this year, so it was going to be very difficult [to make the squad],” Barker said. “We had him graded very high after his season at York. He learned a lot about playing at the professional level and hopefully that will help his training regimen for his season next year.”

The 6-foot, 170-pound Hudson was selected by the Stampeders in the 2006 CFL Supplemental Draft in April and awarded an invitation to training camp on May 19. A two-time Ontario University Athletics (OUA) All-Star, Hudson was the Lions’ leading receiver in 2004 and 2005. He finished second in both the OUA and the CIS with 41 receptions in 2005 and set a York record for most receptions in a season.

After his release last week, Hudson is now eligible to be “inked” by any other team but has been told by the Stampeders that they will keep an eye on his progress in the CIS this season and look at a possible re-signing and invitation back to camp next year.”

To hedge his bets, though, Hudson said he is also looking at converting his soon-to-be completed sociology degree into a career as a primary school teacher and will be looking at applying to York’s Faculty of Education after he graduates next year.