Evan Johnson has deep roots deeply ingrained in the province of Saskatchewan.
Growing up in Regina, the offensive lineman would depart for Saskatoon to play collegiately with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
Drafted by the Ottawa Redblacks in 2017, Johnson spent two seasons in the nation’s capital (2018-19) before he returned home, signing with the Roughriders in 2021.
Johnson wrapped up his third season with the green and white in 2023, shuttling between the starting lineup and the role as the team’s sixth offensive lineman.
On Tuesday’s edition of the Sportscage, the homegrown product discussed with Michael Ball how his the constant shuttles between Regina and Saskatoon, in particular this summer, his trek to Saskatoon to be present for the birth of his second child, Levi.
During early August, Johnson had a busy schedule between two Roughrider games.
“We played a game and then went up to Saskatoon because that’s where we live, basically check in and see how everything is going and came down to Regina for a day practice and then I got a phone call to head north, baby was born, everything went well, and then made it just in time for the plane to take off to Montreal afterwards.”
Throughout the season, the offensive linemen have little downtime as Johnson juggles his responsibilities with the Roughriders and being a dad.
“A lot of guys leave the stadium and are able to kick back and do whatever they want, for us dads, of course we head home, we got kids to look after and help out around the house when we can, trying to juggle all that with the film review and getting ready for our opponent for the week.”
There were a lot of changes in Saskatchewan this past season, with the biggest one along the offensive line occurring in the middle as Peter Godber replaced Dan Clark as the team’s starting centre.
Johnson said the two players are different as each centre has their grasp of the position, but adds that Godber is a hard worker.
“It’s nice to have someone like that, to have complete faith in what they’re seeing, what they’re calling, willing to work together to solve problems with each other.”
Another major change for Saskatchewan was at quarterback. The team began the season with Trevor Harris entrenched in the starting role before he went down with a knee injury.
Mason Fine took over from Harris but suffered a hamstring injury, allowing Jake Dolegala to become the team’s starting quarterback. Johnson feels their offensive line’s strategy doesn’t change much with different quarterbacks.
“As you get use to who’s back there, it makes no difference to us, we know we need to protect the quarterback as long as he needs to throw the ball.”
In February, Johnson is eligible to become a free agent. While he loves playing for the Roughriders, he won’t rule out a possible move if that is in the cards.
“The option is always on the table,” said the 29-year-old, “Saskatchewan is very much home, obviously going into free agency, I’m looking for what I consider a fair deal.”
Johnson said he’d be happy to stay with the green and white if that occurred.
Before free agency takes place, the biggest decision for the Roughriders will be naming a new head coach.
A decision is expected very soon, with the rumoured finalists, Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Buck Pierce and Toronto Argonauts Defensive Coordinator Corey Mace.
Johnson doesn’t know either candidate personally but is aware of the success both potential coaches have attained.
“I’ll be happy either way.”
If the former Huskie returns to the Roughriders, he hopes to help restore winning ways for the organization after a pair of 6-12 campaigns.
“The province deserves wins, it’s whole lot more fun playing on a winning football team, that’s for sure.”