© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Levi Steinhauer, centre, takes part in the Riders' pre-game walkthrough Wednesday at Mosaic Stadium.
Levi Steinhauer wants to improve every time he steps on a football field.
Saturday the 22-year-old Moose Jaw product saw his hard work pay off when he made the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Now Steinhauer wants to keep on improving.
“I’ve been working towards this for a long time, so I’m pretty excited,” said Steinhauer. “Now the real hard work begins on this journey. I’m just trying to be prepared to go to work every day. I want to become the best football player I can become.”
Steinhauer, a six-foot-three, 235-pound defensive end will likely be used primarily on special teams this season, but the Peacock graduate wants to improve every facet of his game. He said he worked to get better every day at the University of Saskatchewan and plans to continue that attitude as his hard work pays off.
“I went in with the mindset that you have to get better every day. You can’t rely on anything you’ve done in the past or be satisfied with what you did the day before,” said Steinhauer. “I went to practice every day in my university career with that mindset. I put as much into it as I could, just so I could get this payoff at the end of my university career.”
Steinhauer was a fifth round pick in the most recent CFL draft. His ability to long snap was part of his appeal, but his attitude and his performance when he did get time on defence helped him stick with the Riders.
“Levi just came out of the blue and really played well for us,” said Riders GM Brendan Taman. “(He was) pretty surprising to be honest with you. He just kept getting better as the camp went on.
“He snaps well, so he’s another insurance policy there. Actually as a d-lineman he’s not bad either and obviously he’ll play some (special) teams for us. He was a nice surprise for us.”
He recorded a sack and had five tackles in the Riders’ two pre-season games and chipped in on special teams, including a half as the team’s long snapper in Edmonton.
Steinhauer may have been a pleasant surprise for the Riders’ brass, but he looked comfortable and confident in the games and during camp.
“You’re there and you want to put your best foot forward in camp. Going into those (pre-season) games I had a little bit of nerves, but at the same time I felt that I was going to go into the games and do my best and whatever happens from there was basically out of my control,” said Steinhauer.
“I just wanted to enjoy it and to have a good time. Being stressed out and a big nervous wreck wasn’t going to facilitate that. I wanted to have a clear mind so I could play fast and show them what I had and let them make the decision after that.”
Steinhauer will back up veteran long snapper Cory Hucklack to start the season and is looking to get some time on special teams.
The Riders will start Ricky Foley and John Chick at defensive end, with rookie Will Davis, a former member of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, and Antonio Coleman from Auburn joining Steinhauer on the depth chart at defensive end.
Taman said that Steinhauer edged out defensive tackle Zach Evans for his roster spot. Evans, a Regina product from the Thunder junior program, played in eight regular season games a year ago in addition to the West semifinal.
“(Evans) is another guy that has played well over the last couple of years for us, but Levi Steinhauer has played pretty well,” said Taman when asked about Evans being released.
Between the end of Saturday’s practice and the team dinner that followed 23 players were summoned to go get the bad news that they had been released.
“You knew if you knew that if you didn’t get talked to that you were safe. It was a no news is good news situation,” said Steinhauer who was hanging around the Riders facility waiting for the dinner. He saw The Turk and the bearer of bad news let Steinhauer know he had made the grade.
“He saw me looking at him and he told me he wasn’t looking for me and that I was good,” said Steinhauer.
Steinhauer was living in Saskatoon during the summer, but has actually moved back to his parents’ farm just north of Moose Jaw for the start of his professional career.
“I’ve been getting bugged about that already, but I’m OK with that,” said Steinahauer who is the second-youngest player on the Riders. “I get supper every night and I get a nice bed to sleep in so I’m not complaining.
“I don’t mind the drive right now. It wakes me up in the morning and it’s relaxing on the way home.”