Connect with us

CFL News

Redblacks Add OL Hector Zepeda and WR Eli Stove

The Redblacks bring in some more offensive help, including one of their 2022 CFL Global Draft Picks.

The Ottawa Redblacks have been very active this entire free agency period so far, although it appears they are beginning to slow down. The Redblacks went a full week before announcing a trio of signings. Defensive lineman Malcolm Lee, Wide Receiver Eli Stove, and Offensive Lineman Hector Zepeda. I will be looking at Stove, and Zepeda in this article. If you would like to read more about Malcolm Lee, check out my full article here:

This offseason the Redblacks have dug deep at receiver in order to try and find hidden gems that they can develop into long-term stars. They continued to add to that room with the signing of Eli Stove.

Eli Stove

Eli Stove originally entered college in 2016 with Auburn. He immediately developed a role in the offense as a true freshman seeing 6 starts on the year. Even as a freshman Auburn was manufacturing touches for him using him early and often in the running game as well. He collected 34 touches for 355 yards and 1 touchdown. Averaging 11.9 yards per carry through 12 games.

During the 2017 season, Auburn had six different players run the ball 30 times or more, one of which was Stove. He in fact ran the ball more than he caught it to the tune of 30 carries for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. The saying goes “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.” Auburn looked at his performance as a runner in year one and saw that it was something that should remain a big part of his game, and leaned into it heavily. Through 26 games he had 41 carries for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns, an average of 10.87 yards, and a touchdown every 13 carries.

In 2018 he missed most of the year due to an early ACL injury. He played in just 3 games catching 3 passes for 17 yards. In 2019 he came back strong with 44 touches for 378 yards and 4 touchdowns, a career high. In 2021 he set a career-high for receptions, and reception yards, and averaged 4 receptions a game for the entire season. Stove is 6’0 191 pounds at this point, could we see him dabble at running back or a larger emphasis on jet sweeps for the Redblacks in 2024 if he makes the team?

Professional Experience

His college career saw him collect 191 offensive touches for 1,740 yards, and 10 touchdowns while adding value on special teams with 4 tackles while averaging 7.5 yards per punt return, and 31 yards per kick return when called upon. His performance at his pro-day didn’t particularly help his case, but shortly after the draft it became clear why his numbers were underwhelming as opposed to his film. At 5’11 194 pounds he ran a 4.54 with a 1.63 10-yard split. He also put up 14 reps in the bench press, and a 30.5 inch vertical leap.

After falling unselected in the 2021 NFL Draft he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers. That was until it came time to pass a physical and he found out he had a torn ACL. He opted to have immediate surgery on the knee in order to be ready as soon as possible.

From Eli Stoves Instagram account

This nearly spelled an early end to his professional career, until he landed with the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers under Head Coach John DeFillippo. Stove was far from the primary receiver but he still was involved in multiple facets of the offense and special teams. He would produce 61 reception yards, 52 rushing yards, and 750 return yards on the season. Including a big-time run on this end around:

He looks much faster than a 4.5 40 yard dash.

Stove figures to come in and compete for a roster spot by contributing in the return game, as well as adding depth to the wide receiver room, and possibly even another threat to run the ball offensively. With so many receivers on the roster at this point, it’s anyone’s guess who makes the roster for the 2024 season. I will point out that the Redblacks didn’t have a single carry go to their wide receiver room in 2023. They divided 410 carries between nine quarterbacks/running backs. Perhaps this is a wrinkle the Redblacks could add to the offense with Tommy Condell calling plays in 2024.

Hector Zepeda

Hector Zepeda is a name that popped up recently on my radar due to another football league I follow, the LFA, or Liga De Football Americano. In short this is the top American style football league in Mexico currently. Zepeda was selected with the 20th overall pick by the Tijuana Galgos of the LFA in 2024. This however wasn’t the first time Zepeda had been drafted. In fact in 2022 he had entered the 2022 CFL Global draft where he was selected 8th overall by Ottawa.

Rather than immediately sign with the Redblacks he chose to return to school for one more post graduate season winning a second championship. (athletes in Mexico can play college sports until they are 25 in some cases) Zepeda was keeping all options open as he participated in the NFL International Pathways Program after his 2022 and 2023 seasons but was not signed by an NFL team either time.

Zepeda is one of the rare players coming from Mexico that began playing American Football before he even entered high school. He was coaxed into trying the sport by the coach/physical education teacher of his middle school. A well-rounded athlete, he once played indoor soccer, basketball, and won a gold medal for sport shooting in the National Olympics.

At 6’4 290 pounds Zepeda is incredibly strong, and has experience playing across the offensive line. He has the quickness, and agility to be used as the pulling guard/tackle in the run game, and has shown the ability to get to the second level in the screen game as well. He could prove to be a high ceiling player for Ottawa. At 26 years old, he has yet to begin his professional career, but he will get that opportunity in 2024 working with a highly respected offensive line coach in Pat Perles.

If you want to learn more about the LFA tune in to this weekly show:

Continue the CFL Football discussions on our offical CFL Discord Channel
author avatar
Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in CFL News

CFL News Hub