12th CFL pick has Niagara connection
Sage Doxtater’s journey to becoming the 12th overall pick in the 2021 CFL draft included a significant stop in Niagara.
The 22-year-old London native spent two years playing football for Canada Prep Academy in Welland and those 24 months were crucial in him becoming a second-round selection of the Toronto Argonauts.
“Canada Prep helped my football career get to where it is today and wouldn’t be where I am today without it,” the 6-foot-7, 350 pound offensive lineman said. “It was the only school in Canada playing American teams and that really opened up my recruiting opportunities.”
Doxtater ended up getting recruited by the New Mexico State Aggies where he made an immediate impact in 2016 by starting nine games at left tackle and being selected to the Sun Belt Conference All-Newcomer Team. He started 11 games on the offensive line in 2017, played 12 games as a starter in 2018 before being limited to three starts in 2019 because of an injury.
Doxtater was looking to build on his resume in 2020 but New Mexico State was one of only three NCAA Division 1 schools that decided to not field a football squad during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was kind of tough to see everyone playing every Saturday. It was hard to watch.”
New Mexico State continued to work out as a team during the pandemic.
“That kept our minds off of it knowing that we were working for some bigger next fall. There was a lot of extra time to train and get better that way,” he said. “I am going to play my last season there in the fall and then enter the NFL draft next year.”
New Mexico State did manage to get in a spring schedule which consisted of a pair of exhibition games.
“We had 35 practices and two games so that did kind of make up for things. It was nice to be out there but it wasn’t the same.”
Doxtater followed Tuesday night’s CFL draft in Arizona where he is staying with his girlfriend and her family. He was ecstatic when the Argonauts selected him.
“Honestly, it was probably the greatest feeling in my life. I was beyond excited. Toronto called me and as soon as I hung up, I started screaming. I was so happy.”
During the pre-draft process, Doxtater made it clear to Toronto that he planned to go back to New Mexico State for his final year and then see how the NFL goes.
“They were understanding and they supported me. They told me to chase my dreams and if that didn’t work out, I had a home with them,” he said. “I was really appreciative of them saying that. It is super cool for them to say that.”
Chasing his dream is important.
“The CFL and the NFL are the top levels of football but obviously the NFL has been my dream since I started playing football.”
Doxtater just finished spring workouts last week at New Mexico State and will get a bit of a break before returning to the school for summer workouts on May 24.
He feels he is making constant improvements as his collegiate career winds down.
“I’ve been having a great off-season so far. I am the strongest and fastest that I have ever been, and all my times and lift numbers are the best ever,” he said. “I just want to keep building on that this summer and go into the fall season dominate and get my name out there.”
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