The 24-year-old Victoria native enters his first season as the B.C. Lions starting quarterback following the retirement of veteran Mike Reilly. The six-foot-two, 209-pound Rourke made two starts in 2021 and completed 52-of-82 passes (63.4 per cent) for 754 yards with three TDs and five interceptions while rushing 18 times for 111 yards (6.2-yard average) and five touchdowns. Rourke has big shoes to fill as Reilly threw for a CFL-high 3,283 yards last season with 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions despite battling an elbow ailment. B.C. selected Rourke in the second round, No. 15 overall, in the 2020 CFL draft after a stellar career at Ohio, where twice he captured the Jon Cornish Trophy as the top Canadian playing NCAA football.
Bo Levi Mitchell
The Calgary Stampeders quarterback has twice been named the league’s outstanding player and has claimed two Grey Cup MVP titles while leading his team to championships. But the 32-year-old Texan has battled injuries the last two seasons and was limited to 11 regular-season appearances in both 2019 and 2021 (the CFL didn’t play in 2020 due to the global pandemic). Mitchell completed 211-of-325 passes (64.9 per cent) for 2,594 yards last season, but for the first time in his CFL career had more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (11). Calgary (8-6) finished third in the West Division and fell 33-30 in overtime to Saskatchewan in the conference semi-final. Mitchell finished 26-of-36 passing with 285 yards in that game, but had two interceptions and no TDs.
The Montreal Alouettes running back was the CFL’s lone 1,000-yard rusher last season, running for a league-high 1,176 yards in 12 regular-season starts. His average of 98 yards rushing per game was also a league high and six times he ran for 100 or more yards in a game, including 203 yards – to tie a career high – in a 37-16 win over the Argonauts. The six-foot, 233-pound Stanback has run for 2,763 yards in 42 regular-season games since joining the Alouettes in 2018. He’s also averaging a solid 6.2 yards per carry over that span. Stanback has recorded 74 receptions for 756 yards (10.2-yard average) with two touchdowns. Stanback’s status for the season opener is unclear as he was limited in practice this week with an ankle injury.
The ‘21 season was another solid one for the Calgary kicker. Parades led the CFL in field goals tried (48), made (44) and success percentage (91.7). He was perfect from 40 yards or less (26-of-26) and made 18-of-22 attempts from outside 40 yards, with a season long of 52 yards. Paredes could be an even more important factor this season given the CFL’s rule changes. Following field goals and singles, opponents will take possession at their 40-yard line instead of the 35. That should put teams in field-goal range quicker. Three times Parades has made over 50 field goals in a season, his career best being 57 over 18 games in 2016.
There will be plenty of eyes on Lawler after he signed a one-year contract reportedly worth $300,000 with the Edmonton Elks. The deal would make Lawler the CFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback. The six-foot-three, 197-pound Lawler was the CFL’s top receiver last season, registering 64 catches for 1,014 yards and six TDs with Winnipeg. Lawler was a member of two Grey Cup-winning teams with the Bombers and had 107 catches for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time in Manitoba.