UND's Santiago signs with CFL Blue Bombers

UND's Santiago signs with CFL Blue Bombers Click to Enlarge

Former UND running back John Santiago has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

Santiago is thus re-united with another former UND running back, Brady Oliveira, who was drafted by Winnipeg earlier this month.

Santiago is a three-time All-American selection. In four years at UND, he had more than 3,700 rushing yards and 6,500 all-purpose yards.

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UND release:

One of the most dynamic running back duos in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) has been reunited north of the border as John Santiago has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL), as announced by the franchise at the beginning of training camp.

Santiago joins a group of 93 names invited to training camp for the Bombers, including fellow UND teammate Brady Oliveira, who was drafted by the team in early May.

The three-time All-American selection departs UND as one of the premier players to ever wear the green and white, amassing over 3,700 rushing yards and 6,500 all-purpose yards to place third and second, respectively, all-time in program history. The all-purpose numbers sit behind only future CFL Hall of Famer Weston Dressler while his rushing totals rank just below Philip Moore and Shannon Burnell, who are both in the UND Hall of Fame. Both marks are also tops in the Division I era (2008-present)

The Andover, Minn., native finished with 17 career 100-yard rushing games, including three against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foes. In his first collegiate start, Santiago rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries to help lead North Dakota to its first win over an FBS opponent, Wyoming, in 2015. That same season, he exploded for a career-high 230 rushing yards on personal-best 30 carries and a trio of scores in a victory vs. Montana State. Following his freshman season, Santiago finished as the only running back in the FCS to rush for 100-or-more yards in each of his conference games, matched the nation’s lead with nine 100+ contests, and set UND’s single-season record with 2,159 all-purpose yards.

During his sophomore campaign, Santiago again exploded on the scene with an 18-carry, 119-yard performance at Bowling Green in the second game of the season before recording his second 200-yard game of his career with a 204-yard effort at Northern Colorado. He earned his second consecutive All-America honors as a return specialist from STATS, Inc. and Hero Sports Network while helping guide UND to the Big Sky Conference regular season title and its first appearance in the FCS playoffs.

In 2017, Santiago collected All-America honors for the third-consecutive season, garnering Associated Press and Phil Steele first team accolades as an all-purpose player as he led the FCS during the regular season with 1,780 all-purpose yards. His top performance of the year came on the road at UC Davis with a 13-carry, 170-yard, one TD day against the Aggies to help Santiago become only the fifth player in the 55-year history of the Big Sky Conference to earn a first-team accolade as a freshman, sophomore and junior at the same position.

He was named the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Second Team and Phil Steele’s FCS Preseason All-America Fourth Team entering his senior season, but was plagued with an injury that kept him out of three games. Despite missing a trio of contests, Santiago posted a pair of 100-yard games, including scampering for 139 yards on 18 carries against No. 9 Washington.

Santiago, who will be wearing No. 40 for the Blue Bombers, will open the preseason with the team on Friday, May 31 against the Edmonton Eskimos at 7:30 p.m. in Winnipeg.

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