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“Part of me was disappointed about not gaining some professional experience, the other part of me was happy to come back to Laval and end my college career the right way,” explained Étienne Moisan, receiver for the ROUGE et OR.
Saturday, Étienne will get a chance to finish his 2018 season with a bang at the Vanier Cup final, a busy season for the Saint-Eustache native who, in addition to continuing to perform the balancing act that is being a student athlete, worked hard to come back from the hip injury that slowed his roll.
Last May, the receiver was drafted in the sixth round by Kavis Reed and the Montreal Alouettes. However, he was forced to put his childhood dream on hold to take the time to heal. Although he didn’t hit the field during training camp, he made sure he made the most of his short stint among the pros.
“I was able to see what the vibe is like and, especially, to attend meetings,” said Étienne who has no trouble putting a positive spin on things. “The knowledge that the coaches have is different. It was very interesting. Also, I stayed in contact with guys my age, like Paul Kozachuk, who turned pro this year. I have a better idea of what to expect.”
Extending his college journey didn’t hurt either. Learning to step back so as to step forward is just as important in everyday life than it is in most sports.
“I’ll be coming into the locker room with more tools in my toolbox. I definitely acquired new abilities, not only on a football level, but also on a personal level. I developed my leadership qualities and that will help me.”
Kavis reminded us several times in the past months how crucial it is for the team to be able to rely on players who can naturally lead the way. Starting your career with more experience, more maturity and more self-awareness is a plus. From up close, we have the pleasure of watching the guys evolve from rookies to “sophomores”. They get here, they’re 23-24 years old and they don’t really know what to expect. They have no benchmarks. The Jean-Gabriel Poulin of the 2018 training camp is different from the Jean-Gabriel Poulin you see today, for example. One year as a valuable contributor on special teams will boost your confidence.
Like Jean-Gab who was his teammate at Vanier College, Étienne could also rely on playing time with special teams to show off his skills.
“I expect to start with the teams, but I would like to make my way to the offence”, he admits. “It’s motivating to know that quarterbacks who continue to grow resigned for next year. They all had the opportunity to start a game, to get accustomed to the pressure. It’s good for the team and it’s reassuring for receivers to know that your quarterback is ready to be a starter.”
For a second consecutive year, the Rouge et Or of Université Laval is fighting for the Vanier Cup against the Western U Mustangs. In 2017, the game was held in Hamilton, in purple territory. Western was crowned champion. According to Étienne, revenge is not the mantra, but the squad hasn’t forgotten last year’s loss.
Saturday, the Rouge et Or is playing at home. We don’t want to (and we can’t) make predictions, but let’s just say we know what Laval is capable of when playing in front of its crowd. Let’s also say that we hope Étienne ends his university career on a high note.