York Lions football captain drafted by CFL’s Roughriders

Matt Dean and his teammates at a 2022 York Lions football game

Matt Dean – a Lions football linebacker, captain through the 2022 season and graduate student at York University – was selected by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League (CFL) 2023 draft.

Matt Dean close-up portrait
Matt Dean

Dean garnered no shortage of attention throughout the Lions’ most recent season, having topped the majority of the team’s defensive statistics this year. Dean led the team in tackles, including 41 solo and an additional 13 assisted, for a total of 47.5. During the Lions’ mid-October bout with the Ottawa Gee Gees, Dean posted a season-high of 11 tackles – 10 solo and two assists. He earned 115 all-time tackles with the Lions – 90 solo and 53 assists. Dean also secured both of the Lions’ interceptions this season and averaged 5.9 tackles per game for a total of four yards lost.

Dean started in all eight of the Lion’s games this year and, for his impressive display throughout, was recognized as the latest Lions football MVP at York’s 54th annual Varsity Athletics Banquet in April.

Having ended his time with the Lions on what is arguably his best season to date, Dean had previously earned himself a variety of coveted accolades during his undergraduate and even high school football careers.

The six-foot-two, 220-pound, Oshawa, Ont. local joined the Lions for the 2018 season, during which he blocked a would-be game-winning field goal attempt to secure a victory against Waterloo. He was also named to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) 2018 all-rookie team. In 2019, Dean started for all eight games and led the team in tackles for yards lost at 5.5. In 2021, he started for five games and led the Lions for total tackles at 23 – 18 solo and 10 assists. At Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School, Dean earned consecutive Lake Ontario Secondary School Athletics (LOSSA) gold medals in 2015 and 2016, as well as the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) Eastern Bowl title in 2015.

Dean was selected in the second round of the latest CFL draft, going 21st overall. His newest team – the Saskatchewan Roughriders – are one of the CFL’s preeminent franchises, having won four Grey Cups throughout their history in 1966, 1989, 2007 and most recently in 2013.

This marks the sixth consecutive year that a York Lions footballer has been drafted into the CFL, with Dean being the 10th drafted Lion in that timeframe.

To view the York Lions football schedule for the upcoming season, click here.