May 22, 2024

Day 11 training camp notebook: Two Quebec-born eighth-rounders looking to stick with Als

Maxym Lavallee, Photo: Pascal Ratthe

In pro sports, the odds of a final-round selection in a draft becoming a key player are slim, but the Alouettes have had a history of making those picks count. And based on what’s been going on at training camp, don’t be surprised if one or two eighth-rounders catch your eye this preseason.

In back-to-back drafts, the Alouettes have selected Laval defensive backs with their final picks. In 2023, Maxym Lavallée made a strong first impression before being returned to school, while the final selection in 2024, Vincent Delisle, hasn’t looked out of a place in the CFL this year.

Both players will need to have their success on the practice field translate to Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Toronto Argonauts at Percival Molson Stadium if they want to stick around after camp.

Vincent Delisle (16), Photo: Pascal Ratthe

As happy as both players are to be going through this journey together, the reality is that both Lavallée and Delisle are competing for a spot at safety behind Marc-Antoine Dequoy. So, making plays on defence will increase their odds of sticking around, but it’s their performances on special teams that will dictate whether they get to see the field in the regular season or not.

“If I help (Delisle) and he helps me, we’ll both progress,” Lavallée said after Wednesday’s single practice in Saint-Jerome. “If we both improve, eventually, it’s going to benefit both of us and the team. I experienced training camp here last year, so if I didn’t try to help (Delisle) out, I wouldn’t be a good teammate. That’s not the ‘Als Way’.

“My priority is special teams. I want to play for the Alouettes, and I want to play for (special teams coordinator) Byron Archambault. I want to perform on special teams. I find it’s a special group, and they’ve shown that they’re the best special teams unit in the CFL. They work so hard, and I want to be part of that.”

Although they went to the same school, there are different reasons why these two players fell to the final round of their respective drafts. Lavallée is undersized (he’s listed at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds), while Delisle hasn’t found a home at one position on the Rouge et Or defence.

“I kind of feel like Maxym probably felt last year,” Delisle explained. “I think I’m better than a lot of the defensive backs that were selected ahead of me. I didn’t have the spotlight on me at Laval while I was there. I didn’t have the opportunity to be the superstar that I was hoping to be. With me being an eight-round pick, at least I know there was one CFL team that believed in me, because I believe in myself too.”

One key difference between these two players is U SPORTS eligibility. Lavallée can’t return to school to play football again, while Delisle can go back for at least one more year. That’s something the coaches and front office will have to factor in when selecting their final roster ahead of Week 1.

“I can’t go back to school,” Lavallée said. “This is a make-it-or-break-it camp for me, and I’m really excited about that.”


The Alouettes added defensive back Darion McKenzie (Merrimack) and linebacker Latavious Brini (Arkansas) to the roster.