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Top 10 NFL players who got their start in the CFL

Top 10 NFL players who got their start in the CFL
Nathan Rourke threw for 3,349 yards and 25 touchdowns this past season with the BC Lions. (Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

(BVM) – In a move that was in the making for quite some time, Canadian Football League (CFL) quarterback Nathan Rourke recently announced his move to the NFL, as he will join the Jacksonville Jaguars to compete for the team’s backup spot behind former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.

A native of Oakville, Ontario, Rourke had a strong high school career at Holy Trinity before playing one year at Edgewood Academy in Alabama. After a brief stint at Fort Scott Community College, he then went off to play at Ohio University where he had a standout career, passing for 7,457 yards while also rushing for 2,634 yards. 

After going undrafted in 2020, Rourke returned home to join the BC Lions. He began his career there as a backup before being appointed the starter ahead of the 2022 season. From there, his career took off as he threw for 3,349 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 304 yards and an additional seven scores despite missing part of the season due to injury.

Now, Rourke has finally earned his opportunity in the NFL, something he has dreamed of for quite some time.

“My goal since I was a child was to play in the NFL,” Rourke said in an interview with BVM Sports last year. “You hope that somebody just gives you a chance.”

Rourke is not the first player to make his name known in the CFL and later join the NFL, however. Several eventual NFL playmakers first made headlines in the CFL, and went on to have tremendous careers in both leagues.

For the purposes of this list, players who started their professional career in the CFL and moved on to the NFL, or started in the NFL, then went to the CFL and back to the NFL are eligible. However, players who had successful NFL tenures and finished their pro careers in the CFL like Fred Biletnikoff, Andre Rison and Chad Johnson are not included. Here are the top 10 NFL players who got their start to stardom in the CFL.