After a bright career at Alabama, Juwan Simpson is an all-star linebacker in the Canadian Football League. He had seven tackles in Calgary’s 34-8 loss Saturday night to British Columbia. That gives him 22 in five games, which ranks second on the team.
Simpson headed to the CFL in 2008 and has entrenched himself there immediately with the Calgary Stampeders. He helped the franchise win the Grey Cup as a rookie.
His best season came in 2010 when he made the CFL all-star team and had a team-high 71 tackles. In 2011, he missed five of the Stampeders’ 18 games but still ranked second on the team with 55 tackles.
Alabama has a long history in the CFL with some of the Crimson Tide’s best players shining north of the border.
According to cflapedia.com, one of the best was Bobby Marlow, a top Tide running back in the 1950s. He spent eight seasons playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and was one of the league’s top running backs, finishing third in the league in 1954 with 882 rushing yards. He was a five-time all-star, but all five selections came on defense: three at defensive back (1953, 1954 and 1955) and two at linebacker (1956 and 1957).
All-America running back Johnny Musso played in the CFL during 1972-74. Linebacker Eddie Lowe was there from 1983-91. Ray Odums was an Alabama basketball standout during 1972-74 but played 10 years of football in the CFL, making the all-star team four times. Mike Raines, a defensive tackle on Alabama’s 1973 national champions, played eight seasons in the CFL, helping Ottawa win the 1976 Grey Cup.
Defensive lineman Thomas Rayam, who blocked a kick to secure a 1989 win over Penn State, played in the CFL during 1995-2002. Others include lineman Billy Shipp (1955-65), offensive tackle Roosevelt Patterson (1995-97), offensive guard Buddy Brown (1975-78) and quarterback Jay Barker (1998-2000). Nautyn McKay-Loescher, a Crimson Tide player from Canada, played in the CFL during 2004-09.
Besides Simpson, the only other former Alabama player listed in the CFL is Terry Grant, who is on the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ injured list. He rushed for 151 yards last season as a rookie.