Deshawn Stevens of the University of Maine is pictured warming up for a game earlier this spring at Alfond Stadium in Orono. Credit: Courtesy of Ronnie Gillis

University of Maine All-Colonial Athletic Association linebacker Deshawn Stevens, who was also chosen a sophomore All-American, will play for the University of West Virginia this fall.

Stevens, who will be on a full scholarship, spent five seasons at UMaine and entered the NCAA transfer portal as well as the Canadian Football League draft.

The Toronto, Ontario, native was chosen in the first round by the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, the sixth overall pick, but he decided to play for the Big 12 Conference Mountaineers, a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

UMaine is a level below in the Football Championship Subdivision.

All student-athletes received a one-year eligibility waiver from the NCAA this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stevens said the other school that showed a lot of interest was Texas State where his former UMaine teammate, All-American offensive tackle Liam Dobson, wound up transferring to. Dobson is from Ottawa and was the third overall pick of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Stevens said. “I’m just going to keep working and keep learning. There are a lot of great things here. The resources are endless. And they have the same blue collar mentality that they have at Maine. You have to work to earn your keep.”

Playing a vital role in his decision was his friend, Alonzo Addae, who transferred to West Virginia from the University of New Hampshire and was a All-Big 12 second team safety last fall. Addae, who is from Pickering, Ontario, and Stevens are former Canadian national team teammates.

“He had talked to their coaches about me and they got in touch with me,” Stevens said. “And to see how he has grown and developed as an athlete and a person here gave me confidence I can do that, too.”

He also pointed out that there is another player from Ontario on the roster in Ottawa linebacker Akheem Mesidor.

The Mountaineers went 6-4 last fall, 4-4 in the Big 12, and beat Army 24-21 in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

They will open the season on Sept. 4 at Maryland.

Stevens, whose CFL rights will be retained by Ottawa, said his five years at UMaine were productive and prepared him well for his move up the ladder.

“I appreciated my time at Maine,” said Stevens who added that it will make his transition easier.

UMaine did not have a fall season due to the pandemic, but had an abbreviated spring season in which the Black Bears went 2-2. Stevens led the team in tackles with 36 and was an All-CAA first team pick.

He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in August 2019, in a season-opening win over Sacred Heart and underwent surgery and an extensive rehabilitation process.

He didn’t return to game action until March 6.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Stevens was a sophomore All-American in 2018 when he led the team in tackles with 120 including 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks. UMaine won the CAA and earned its first ever trip to the FCS semifinals.

He was a All-CAA second team selection.