The Canadian Football League's 2024 season is quickly approaching, the pre-season set to begin Monday in Regina as the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

With training camp beginning last Sunday in Saskatoon, the Roughriders have been practicing with their full roster for just about a week now. The vibes at camp are much different this year with new head coach Corey Mace leading the team for the first time, joined by tons of new faces up and down the roster.

Excited to be part of the fresh attitude at camp, WestCentralOnline caught up with our Roughriders contact Logan Ferland. The two-time Roughriders most-outstanding lineman began with a look into his offseason, taking a trip across the world.

"Taking a break with some family, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa." he shared, describing the family trip as a nice way to take a break, ahead of what was a busy offseason for the team.

It was also a good chance for the big man to get his body back in order.

"Having that reset really feels good. Dealt with some knee rehab from last season, so it was a slower offseason for me, but as we were ramping up here the last month before camp things are feeling really good, and I am really starting to miss football again, so I'm excited."

There's no doubt that Ferland wanted to be at full strength while meeting the new head coach for the first time. He's looking forward to a fresh voice in the room, and believes Mace's level of intensity could be just what the Roughriders need.

"He is a leader of men. You get that vibe right away. He's very certain of where he wants his program to go, and he is willing to do anything to take us there."

Ferland feels his mentality meshes well with the new coach.

"You can really tell the accountability aspect of the game is very important to him, and that is something near and dear to my heart as well," said Ferland. "Growing up playing Sask. football, whether it was high school or junior ball, that was something instilled in me early, and something I think we were missing for a long time. Having that back is going to be huge for us, and much-needed."

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are also a team built on community. Not many people exemplified that better than the late Jim Hopson. Ferland called back to his lone interaction with the longtime steward of the organization

"Jim was an amazing man. I had an opportunity to meet him once, and he's a very intelligent guy who was obviously very community involved up until the very end." 

Ferland talked about a special aspect of Mosaic Stadium that will help Hopson's memory live on forever.

"We are able to honour him by having our team auditorium, where we meet every single day, named after him. That was really special." reflected Ferland, appreciating the fact that Hopson was able to see it for himself.

"It speaks about the culture that he brings, and how important he knows the culture is to the program. The fact that is where we meet everyday, in the auditorium as a team, you know that guys are going to be thinking about Jim and the legacy he is leaving behind. That is one of the main things that guys will take away, whether they know who he is, or are learning more about him, that's one of the main things that will stick."

Those thoughts came as Ferland was making the drive from Regina to Saskatoon for camp exactly one week ago. Entering another season, Ferland actually went into the offseason without a contract, but still managed to ink his new two-year deal while halfway across the globe.

Now with the season only a few weeks away, it's time for Ferland to get into the trenches.

"Looking forward to a grind. I know it's going to be compete time, that's how Mace likes to run his show. I think they brought in a lot of extremely good talent, that can start, and is starting in the CFL," said Ferland, one of the players battling for a starting spot entering 2024. "I am really looking forward to the competition. Looking forward to honestly hitting someone again, because it's been too long without that. Seeing the guys, and hitting the turf again."

Hitting his teammates in practice may have sufficed for now, but Ferland will get the chance to crack none-other than the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers come Monday's pre-season opener at Mosaic Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM.