May 29, 2018

ROOKIES TO WATCH OUT FOR

If you checked out training camp last week, you certainly noticed that our veterans still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Speedster Stef Logan still runs like a 23-year-old track star, BJ Cunningham catches everything that comes his way, Drew Willy is showing the newcomers how it’s done and John Bowman continues to perfect his craft every day.

But these consummate pros aren’t the only ones generating positive noise. Here are some quick-takes on a few of the young guns who will be fighting to earn a spot on the team come Thursday, when the Alouettes take on the REDBLACKS in their first pre-season game of the year in Ottawa.

66 – Trey Rutherford, Offensive Lineman

After his second day of training camp, Trey said he found that taking his initial steps as a pro had been challenging. The University of Connecticut product and the team’s first draft choice declared he would quickly learn from his mistakes, and his coaches appear to agree – Trey could often be seen among the first teamers last week.

According to offensive line coach Paul Dunn, “Everything is new for him. It’s a very difficult transition for a rookie to make, coming into the pros. I think he’s adapting well, he’s got lots going through his mind, but I haven’t seen him carrying any water bottles yet. He’s fitting in great.

One thing’s for sure: there are high expectations for the 289 pound offensive lineman as the team seeks to improve its offensive line.


88 – Jamal Robinson, Wide Receiver

The rangy 6 foot 4 inch wide receiver has seen a lot of North America in the past couple of years. After completing his studies in his hometown at Louisiana-Lafayette, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He then spent a few months on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats practice squad in 2017 before receiving an invitation to come to Montreal.

This opportunity means a lot to me. I’m ready to contribute and I’m learning that I can move on the line. The waggle is definitely a tool that I can use. The field is wide and I can use that to my advantage,” Jamal said, with a big smile.

The wide receivers group coached by Jason Tucker is rounding into shape. BJ Cunningham, Ernest Jackson and  Chris Williams appear to be on the same page with quarterbacks Drew Willy and Matt Shiltz, and since his arrival, Jamal has left an impression with his “high altitude” receptions. His vertical leaping ability definitely has the potential to give defensive backs headaches!


31 – William Stanback, Running Back

Let’s be honest: it’s not very likely that anyone is going to replace Tyrell Sutton as the starting running back this season. Our #20 – an adopted Montrealer – showed no signs of slowing down last season. But, as running backs coach André Bolduc put it, the team would be naive not to have a Plan B when it comes to a player like Tyrell who is known for his aggressive style of play.

Stanback, an imposing ball carrier who stands 6 feet and weighs 233 pounds, appears to be a safe bet. And because he plays in a similar manner to Sutty, the offence wouldn’t need to make any adjustments. It would be business as usual.


19 – Garrett Fugate, Quarterback

Don’t be fooled by appearances. Garrett doesn’t have the size of someone like Cam Newton (he’s more of a Tom Brady type), but he’s got one heck of an arm. He impressed more than a few people at mini-camp, and told us under the hot Florida sun that he was very motivated to learn a brand new playbook.

Here’s what offensive coordinator Khari Jones had to say about Garrett: “He looks good. He hasn’t looked out of place so far, which can be very common among rookies. It’s a different game, different rules, but he looks like he belongs. He throws a good ball, he moves well and does all the things that you like to see in a quarterback. He’s thrown some good balls to Stephen Adekolu and Alton Howard. I’m excited to see him in a game.

Our Alouettes have a lot of decisions to make regarding the quarterback position, and Garrett should have his moment to shine on Thursday night.


97 – Lawrence Okoye, Defensive Tackle

We’re cheating a little bit here because Lawrence was actually added to the roster last September, but it’s still early goings in his CFL career. Originally from Croydon in England, the defensive tackle stands 6 feet 6 inches and weighs 309 pounds. Lawrence came to football late, in fact he only did so after finishing 12th in discus at the 2012 summer Olympic Games. He holds the British record with a discus throw of 68.24 metres. Impressive stuff.

The British athlete passed through the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins organizations before crossing the border into Canada. Although it will be difficult to compete for a spot against star players on the Alouettes’ defensive line like John Bowman, Jamaal Westerman and Alan-Michael Cash, make sure to keep your eyes peeled on Lawrence at the defensive tackle position.


49 – Jean-Gabriel Poulin, Linebacker

There are a lot – a lot! – of new faces on the defensive side of the ball. And there’s quite a battle going on for spots among the linebackers as well as the defensive backs. When you are gunning for a place against players like Henoc MuambaKyle Knox, Joe Burnett, Tommie Campbell and Dominique Ellis, it’s in your best interest to stand out as much as you can. According to linebackers coach Todd Howard, the Quebecer and Western University Mustang who was selected in the third round this year could well find himself playing on special teams, and, sooner rather than later.

He comes to us from a good college program, you can tell. He has great fundamental instincts and techniques. We’re getting the feel of where and how he could help us, at middle or weak, but he’s most likely a guy who could be a good special teams contributor,” Todd Howard said.

You can catch your Alouettes in action on Thursday night on TSN. And make sure to get your tickets for the Saturday, June 9 pre-season game at Percival-Molson Stadium when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be the visitors at noon. Tickets for children are only $5!

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