Of the many CFL hopefuls that will suit up for their first professional football game when the Edmonton Elks take on the Calgary Stampeders in preseason competition, 2 p.m. MT on Monday (May 22) at McMahon Stadium, no one has more reason to be excited than Jake Taylor.
While he’s a rookie on the Elks roster, the linebacker from the University of Alberta, who Edmonton selected in the second round (18th overall) of the 2023 CFL Draft, is already a decorated veteran of the greatest rivalry in Canadian sport.
“I’m stoked,” says Taylor, a native of Beaumont. “Playing in the Green and Gold is pretty cool, but (it’s especially cool) being able to play in the Battle of Alberta on the field that I’ve been doing it last four years.”
Since beginning his university football career with the Golden Bears in 2019, Taylor has faced the Calgary Dinos four times, including three at McMahon Stadium. It Is on this very same field where he is about to make his Elks debut that Taylor had perhaps his greatest game as a student-athlete, racking up five tackles, breaking up a pass, and intercepting Dinos quarterback Matteo Spoletini in the endzone as Alberta defeated Calgary 34-23 on Sept. 16, 2022.
“I had a pretty good performance playing U of C last year, and I’m excited to be in that environment again,” says Taylor, who also had five tackles, including one for a loss, in a 36-30 Golden Bears’ victory at McMahon Stadium in 2021.
“Those fans go pretty crazy, but I just feed off that energy and there’s no better feeling than when everyone’s cheering against you and you catch a pick in the endzone and it’s like, ‘What’s up?’ So I’m excited to ball out against the team in the red.”
— Edmonton Elks (@GoElks) May 3, 2023
Monday’s tilt is the very first CFL pre-eason game of 2023 and comes just over a week after the Elks opened main camp at Commonwealth Stadium. For rookies like Taylor, it’s been a crash course in pro football courtesy Edmonton’s coach and general manager Chris Jones.
“Coach Jones has been running a really intense camp, and I’m all for it,” says Taylor, 21. “The way he’s been doing it is really weeding out the guys that want it and the guys that love it. So as a guy that loves it, I’m really happy being surrounded by other guys that just genuinely love what we’re doing out here.
“Each day I just try to come out and get one to five per cent better, so I’m really happy with how I’ve been progressing so far,” Taylor adds.
Between rookie camp and main camp, Taylor has spent a week and a half lining up against men wearing the same colours as him. That means there’s a lot of suppressed energy that’s about to be unleashed upon some poor souls who have the misfortune of being on the other side of the field when the ball is kicked off Monday at McMahon.
“As of right now we’re only practising against our teammates, so even though we might be padded up, there’s still times that we can’t be putting guys on the floor, putting guys on the dirt, going all out against our teammates,” says Taylor. “So I’m excited to get my shot on special teams and show them that have a different mindset than a lot of other football players.”
THE COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF IS ON
The 2023 CFL season is rapidly approaching. Be there Sunday, June 11 at Commonwealth Stadium when the Edmonton Elks open the season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It’s the start of a summer full of family, fun and football. Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets to the Home Opener and be part of the tradition.
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