Cameron Judge starts CFL career tonight

UCLA linebacker Cameron Judge (right) was the second overall pick in the CFL Draft this year. (The Associated Press)

Only a week ago, Cameron Judge graduated from UCLA. On Thursday, the former UCLA linebacker will start his professional career.

Judge’s Saskatchewan Roughriders start the CFL season against the Montreal Alouettes at 4:30 p.m. PT on Thursday. Judge, who was born in Montreal to an American father and Canadian mother, tested the NFL waters at a rookie mini camp with the Houston Texans, but ultimately landed with the Roughriders, who picked the Oaks Christian High graduate with the No. 2 overall selection in the CFL Draft.

Defensive tackle Eli Ankou was also drafted by a CFL team, but was able to sign a deal as an undrafted free agent with the Texans.

Cameron Judge, Eli Ankou selected in CFL Draft

UCLA linebacker Cameron Judge (right) was the second overall pick in the CFL Draft on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Cameron Judge and Eli Ankou are still holding on to their NFL dreams, but the pair of former UCLA Bruins received possible backup plans Sunday night after hearing their names called in the CFL Draft.

Judge, who was invited to a rookie mini camp with the Houston Texans after going undrafted in the NFL Draft, was taken second overall in the CFL Draft by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Judge was born in Montreal, but went to high school at Oaks Christian before coming to UCLA, where he played 47 games as a linebacker and special teams stalwart.

“If things don’t work out [in Houston], it’s nice knowing I have somewhere to go,” Judge told CBC News after the draft. “If I don’t make an [NFL] team I’m definitely coming up there to play and prepared to give it everything I got, be fully committed to this team.”

Ankou will also be at Houston’s rookie mini camp after he signed as an undrafted free agent with the team. The Ottawa native was taken with the 26th pick in the third round Sunday by the Ottawa Redblacks, the defending Grey Cup champions.

By the numbers countdown to kickoff: 9 days

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Countdown the days to UCLA’s season-opener against Texas A&M with key stats facing the Bruins this year.

10 receiving touchdowns scored by Thomas Duarte last year, which led the team


UCLA sent two big stars on defense to the NFL, but the Bruins are set to reload quickly with nine returning starters.

Eddie Vanderdoes replaces first-round pick Kenny Clark in the starting lineup after a season-ending knee injury last year. Vanderdoes had never missed a game in his college career prior to his injury and made 19 combined starts during his first two years with the Bruins.

Cameron Judge is set to take a starting outside linebacker role opposite Jayon Brown. Judge, a senior, played in 12 games last season and made one start while Myles Jack left school early to prepare for the NFL Draft and recover from a meniscus injury.

Deon Hollins started 12 games last season as an outside linebacker in UCLA’s 3-4 front, but with the team’s switch to a 4-3, defensive end Matt Dickerson worked mostly with the No. 1 unit during training camp. Dickerson played in every game last year and made one start, against Washington State.

The Bruins could have 10 (or possibly 11) upperclassmen starting on defense:

  • Defensive line: Takkarist McKinley (Sr.), Eli Ankou (R-Sr.), Vanderdoes (R-Jr.), Dickerson (Jr.)
  • Linebackers: Brown (Sr.), Kenny Young (Jr.) or Isaako Savaiinaea (Sr.), Judge (Sr.)
  • Defensive backs: Fabian Moreau (Sr.), Randall Goforth (R-Sr.), Jaleel Wadood (Jr.), Marcus Rios (R-Sr.) or Nate Meadors (So.)

The group’s experience is “golden,” Vanderdoes said.

“That’s the biggest asset we have right now,” he continued. “We’ve been through everything. … We’ve experienced big losses, small losses, everything, so I don’t think anything can faze us at this point. We’ve seen it all, we’ve experienced it all. We know what it’s like.”

VIDEO: Angus McClure, Kenny Young, Cameron Judge, Tahaan Goodman

Defensive line coach Angus McClure talks about how the team spends down time in San Bernardino getting better, the progression of Boss Tagaloa and the health of Eddie Vanderdoes.

Linebacker Kenny Young about the competition at middle linebacker, the Blue Cut Fire and how San Bernardino helps the team build mental toughness.

Linebacker Cameron Judge talks about how the middle linebacker competition affects him, what he thinks about San Bernardino and his role as a starter right now.

Defensive back Tahaan Goodman talks about what he brings to the group of defensive backs, how the team bonds off the field and his reputation as a big hitter.