Just as Jordan Linnen exceeded the expectations of the B.C. Lions in training camp, playing in a Canadian Football League (CFL) exhibition game surpassed those of the 21 year-old defensive back.
Linnen, a member of the Langley (formerly South Surrey) Rams of the Canadian Junior Football League dressed for the Lions in last Wednesday’s CFL preseason game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was on the field for kick-offs, and was in on a number of tackles in a 34-6 B.C. victory.
“It was an unreal experience, it exceeded my expectations,” said the 5’10”, 190-pound Linnen the day after the game. “I got in more reps than I thought, and I made some plays.”
Linnen spend the last two seasons with the Rams in South Surrey, and was a B.C. Football Conference all-star both years. And while not much was expected when the graduate of Frank Hurt Secondary, he was invited to the Lions rookie camp in Kamloops earlier this month.
But he showed well enough to earn an invitation to the main camp, where he was listed as a non-counting junior player, meaning that he is not property of the CFL team but is territorially protected.
And while others around him were cut and sent home, Linnen stayed in camp and soon realized he might get a chance to play in one of the two preseason games.
“(Player Personnel Coordinator) Neil McEvoy sat me down, and told me they were keeping me until the end of camp,” he said. “That’s when I thought I had a chance to get on one of the active rosters for a game. So I worked hard to get that chance.”
And he made the most of it, earning some praise from head coach Wally Buono and taking another step towards his goal of playing as a professional.
“Wally said he was impressed with my play, and I have a future in football,” said Linnen. “He didn’t specify anything, but he was very encouraging.
“I think I have a good chance of getting asked to practice with the Lions, and if I do I will practice with them and keep playing for the Rams. But we’ll see what happens.”