Laval’s Antony Auclair has been invited to the prestigious East-West Shrine Game, the oldest American college football all-star showcase that has served as an NFL launching point for the likes of Canadian defensive lineman David Onyemata and o-lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in recent years.
For more than three decades, at least two Canadian university players have been invited to the annual event in Florida. It features a week of practices in front of NFL and CFL coaches and scouts followed by a game broadcast on the NFL Network, this year that will be on Jan. 21.
The six-foot-five, 254-pounder had 17 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns in eight regular season games for the Rouge et Or. He recorded a team-high 70 receiving yards and one touchdown in Laval’s 2016 Vanier Cup championship victory. He’s drawn the interest of several NFL teams already.
Within Laval’s offence, the Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que., native has been used at several spots, including as a tight end, slotback and wide receiver while also being heavily involved in the run game as a blocker. That combo of skills is why NFL talent evaluators see Auclair as a tight end prospect.
“He’s got everything you want: perfect size, tenacious blocker, soft hands, smarts and runs well enough,” adds a CFL evaluator. “Auclair’s unique in that he might be a more valuable commodity south of the border than he would be up here because of the different styles of play.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the Mississippi river, Canada’s west representative will be University of Manitoba offensive lineman Geoff Gray. The six-foot-six, 330-pound Winnipeg native was the Canada West Outstanding Down Lineman of the Year, making him a finalist for the J.P. Metras trophy for the 2016 USports football season. He was ranked No. 11 on the latest version of the CFL scouting bureau.