Derek Dennis is a three time CFL West All-Star offensive tackle who signed with the XFL’s Team 9 after becoming a CFL free agent on February 11th. The imposing Dennis most recently played for the Calgary Stampeders after starting his pro career as a backup on several NFL teams.
Team 9 is coached by Bart Andrus whose career has seen spells coaching in the NFL, CFL, NFL Europe, and US colleges. Andus served as NFL offensive assistant in both Tennessee and St. Louis. He may be familiar to UK fans having won an NFL Europe championship as head coach of Amsterdam in 2005 and was a CFL head coach with Toronto.
So what is Team 9? It’s described as an ‘extra squad stocked with players available to fill open roster spots on any team in the league at any time.
You’ve been a CFL West All-Star three times. Do you think XFL All-Star is next?
Every where I go I have attitude that I’m one of the best so that’s the goal. Let’s see if I can do it in 7 games.
What are your thoughts on the league through the first two weeks?
I think it’s doing some good things in terms of marketing and broadcasting. The product on field is good, it’s not great but you have to understand it’s new league and teams are going in blind. The more film and study, the more knowledge and things will get better.
How did playing in the CFL differ from the NFL?
The CFL game has a lot of small nuances that make it different from ball south of border but it didn’t take me long to learn it and grasp the concept. I only played 4 full seasons up there but I think I did a lot in that short time.
How would you describe your playing style?
I’m a bruiser but I’m very athletic. I love smash mouth, north and south football. I was pretty much trained to be that way but I’m also a cerebral player with versatility. I can play all positions and adapt to most offenses.
What enticed you to choose the XFL as your next challenge?
I chose the XFL because I saw an opportunity to come home and play ball in front of family and friends and I felt I wasn’t being given the proper respect an All-star should be shown so I’m hoping this is a way to garner that respect back….
What should UK fans know about you?
Just be prepared for an OL with tons of personality and swagger.
After making the switch, Dennis will be one of the better tackles in the XFL and has significant professional experience which will make him an attractive prospect. An All Pro with something to prove is a great motivator. I look forward to seeing where he ends up. It’s worth wondering if there be more CFL stars making switch to the XFL in coming weeks.
A huge thank you to Derek for taking the time out to answer my questions.