While much of the football focus is on the NFL and college football, the Canadian Football League is also in full swing. After seeing its 2020 season canceled due to the pandemic, the CFL began its 2021 campaign in early August, and five former Nevada players are on teams. The Wolf Pack has a rich history of success in the CFL with three players earning CFL All-Star honors and six winning Grey Cup titles. Here is a look at Nevada's 10 best CFL players ever (listed in alphabetical order).
RB James Butler: Butler has had a well-traveled pro career after starring for Nevada from 2014-16 before spending his final season of college at Iowa. He's had a couple of stints on the Raiders' practice squad without making the team's 53-man roster and signed with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019 but was cut before the season began. He was one of the XFL's best running backs in 2020 before the season was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Butler made his CFL debut this season with the BC Lions and has accounted for 149 yards and two touchdowns in three games. While the 26-year-old is still young in his CFL career, he's worth noting on this list.
DT James Curry: This list includes only one defensive player. Perhaps it's because Nevada has developed more great offensive players over the years. Or perhaps CFL teams allocate more of its U.S. player spots to the offense. After leading Nevada in tackles in 1977 and 1978, the Wolf Pack Hall of Famer was cut by Calgary and Saskatchewan in 1980 and briefly retired. But he resurfaced in 1983 and played seven years in the league, becoming the most accomplished CFL player in Nevada history. He was a two-time CFL All-Star (four-time division All-Star) who led Toronto (1983) and Saskatchewan (1989) to Grey Cup titles. His 93 games played are the most of any Nevada alum. He was a five-time CFL lineman of the week and a nominee for the league's Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 1989 when he had 16 of the 85.5 sacks in his career, his personal best being 22 in 1984, which ranked second in the CFL that season. Curry eventually became a broadcaster for Nevada games and CFL games. In 2007, he was arrested on a murder charge of his girlfriend but was later released due to lack of evidence.
WR Lemar Durant: The Canadian native spent one season at Nevada, the historic 2010 campaign, during which he suffered a knee injury and didn't play before transferring to Simon Fraser University in Canada. Durant has been in the CFL since 2015, splitting time between Calgary and BC. His best season came in 2019 when he caught 57 passes for 810 yards and five touchdowns. In 70 career games, he has 174 catches for 2,282 yards and 18 scores. He's appeared in two Grey Cups, winning the title in 2018 when he was named the game's Most Valuable Canadian after hauling in a 17-yard touchdown catch. He was BC's nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian Player in 2019.
QB Cody Fajardo: One of the best active players in the CFL, Fajardo is in his fifth season in the league. After a stint in the Oakland Raiders' training camp, Fajardo broke into the CFL as a backup quarterback for Toronto, where he was a Grey Cup in 2017, and British Columbia before getting his chance to start in 2019 in Saskatchewan following an injury to Roughriders starter Zach Collaros. A four-year starter at Nevada, Fajardo accounted for 4,913 yards and 28 touchdowns in 18 games in 2019, earning CFL All-Star status and being a finalist for the league's Most Outstanding Player, the only Wolf Pack alum to earn that honor.
RB Lucius Floyd: Floyd played for Nevada in the mid-1980s and rushed for 305 yards against Montana State in 1986 (the second most in school history in a single game). He broke into the CFL in 1990, earning the league's Jackie Parker Trophy (rookie of the year honors) after rushing for 421 yards and catching 73 balls for 811 yards and five touchdowns. He played for three teams over six seasons, appearing in 86 CFL games (the second most of any Wolf Pack alum) and winning the 1993 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos. He accounted for 6,784 yards and 36 touchdowns in his CFL career while also being a standout return man.
QB Stan Heath: Nevada has had as many quarterback alums start CFL games (three) as NFL games (three), with Heath being the only gun-slinger to do both. He became the first college quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards in a season at Nevada in 1948 before being the No. 5 pick of the NFL draft. He lasted just one season in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers before moving on to the CFL where he played from 1950-54 with Hamilton and Calgary. In 43 CFL games, Heath completed 41 percent of his passes for 2,379 yards with 19 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He also ran for 97 yards and a score and caught a touchdown, too.
RB Don Jackson: After going undrafted following his Wolf Pack career, Jackson signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Green Bay Packers and appeared in three games for the team in 2016. He was released by Green Bay in 2017 and moved on to the CFL in 2018 after signing with Calgary where he became one of the league's top running backs, rushing for 924 yards (fourth in the CFL), 5.8 yards per carry and three touchdowns while adding 23 catches for 168 yards. Jackson won a Grey Cup that season, accumulating 92 yards on 18 touches with a touchdown in the championship game. Jackson now plays for Hamilton and has rushed for 1,181 yards with five touchdowns in 21 career CFL games.
OL Shar Pourdanesh: A Hall of Famer at Nevada, Pourdanesh was named Nevada's Most Outstanding Offensive Player in 1992 when it won the Big West in its first season as an FBS school. After spending 1993 with the NFL's Cleveland Browns in camp, Pourdanesh joined the CFL's Baltimore Stallions in 1994 and was named an All-Star while winning the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award that season, becoming the first rookie to do so. He appeared in two Grey Cup with Baltimore, winning the title in 1995. The team folded after that season, and Pourdanesh returned to the NFL where he played from 1996-2000, appearing in 57 games with 41 starts. He is one of two multiple-time CFL All-Star among Nevada alums.
WR/KR/PR Treamelle Taylor: Taylor only played one season in the CFL, but it was a good one. After a Hall of Fame career with the Wolf Pack, Taylor played for Ottawa in 1992 and was the team's nominee for the Jackie Parker Trophy, which goes to the league's rookie of the year. He also was CFL's Offensive Star in Week 11. In his lone CFL season, Taylor caught 30 passes for 487 yards, an average of 16.2 per reception, and three touchdowns. He averaged 11.8 yards per punt return, taking two back for touchdowns, and 18.8 yards per kickoff return. In total, Taylor had 1,812 all-purpose yards in one of the best CFL seasons for a Nevada alum. He spent 1993 on injured reserve and didn't make the CFL's Las Vegas Posse roster in 1994.
QB Chris Vargas: The Magic Man earned a reputation at Nevada as the comeback king off the bench before earning the starting job and having a record-breaking 1993 season. He joined the CFL one season later in Edmonton and logged five years in the league, which also included stops in BC and Winnipeg. Vargas completed 51.6 percent of his passes for 5,821 yards, 34 touchdowns and 37 interceptions in the CFL, adding 167 rushing yards and a touchdown. He started 18 games in his pro career, including six with Edmonton in 1995 and 12 with Winnipeg in 1997.
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.