Q&A: Canadian TE Antony Auclair on making the Tampa Bay Bucs 53-man roster

Canadian tight end Antony Auclair made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers final roster.

The 24-year-old became the first player from Laval University to make an NFL roster. Rouge et Or head coach Glen Constantin said it was a milestone for the program.

It’s been a whirlwind for Auclair who garnered notice from NFL scouts midway through Laval’s 2016 Vanier Cup championship season. He earned an invite to the prestigious East-West Shrine Game and had 17 teams attended his Pro Day in Quebec City. After ten visits with NFL clubs, Auclair signed a priority undrafted free agent contract with the Bucs at the end of April.

Auclair provided details surrounding his accomplishment.

Question: How were you told about making the team?

Auclair: Dirk Koetter wanted to see me in his office, so I went this morning. He started with “congrats you’re making the team.” We went over what I had to correct and what I had to do better and he basically told me that I have to be prepared for games and prepare myself as if I was playing.

Q: How were you feeling leading up to the cutdown deadline?

Auclair: I’ll be honest the night after the game I was nervous a little bit – I made some mistakes. I didn’t think I was getting cut, but you never know — it’s a business. My position coach was talking to me as if I was staying for the year.

Q: What does it mean to make the Bucs 53-man roster?

Auclair: Being from Canada and speaking another language it’s really big. It’s really been a grind over the last five weeks.

Q: Why did you choose Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent?

Auclair: When I did those visits back in March and April, I really liked Tampa. I liked the vibe and feeling I had here. Talking with the coaches and the general manager, they really liked me and that’s what you want — the whole staff to like you. I went to teams and felt like the head coach liked me but then the position coach didn’t like me much – it’s different from place-to-place. What I like about Tampa is we have a good locker room here, the players are really good to each other and we have some good leaders as well. The whole team is going to do well in the future.

Q: How much are you hearing from people back home?

Auclair: Right now everybody on Facebook is going crazy – my Instagram too. People are really proud. For me, it’s hard to realize what’s going on right now because I’m always focusing on the next day, practice, and game.

Q: What was the toughest part of your first NFL training camp?

Auclair: The hardest part was really the heat — it’s so intense, like fire. You become so sweaty that you have to change your gloves and clothes. And I had to adapt to a new game and rules.

Q: Does anything change now that you’ll be getting paid to play football?

Auclair: Really you’re playing a kids game and you’re just getting paid for it. It’s really fun, but at the same time, it puts a little bit of pressure on you to perform, which is normal. I’m going to approach the game as I always have: compete and have fun.

Q: What’s Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston like?

Auclair: Jameis is really a good player and leader. When I first got here in OTAs I got injured after one week and he came to me and said he missed me on the field, a big guy running good routes. It really made me comfortable.

Q: What led to you singing O Canada on Hard Knocks?

Auclair: We had to pick a song and that was my idea. First of all, I knew some of the guys in Canada were going to see that and I really wanted to give a shout out to Canada and the french language as well, that’s why I did it in french.

Q: It seemed like Jameis Winston liked your rendition. Did he say anything to you about it?

Auclair: He stood up when I did it. At first, I thought they were going to boo me, but then I realized you can’t boo a national anthem. You need to be respectful for other countries. When Jameis and everyone stood up I really appreciated the respect from my teammates.

Q: When did you truly believe that playing in the NFL was attainable?

Auclair: My second year at Laval I was watching tight ends from colleges in the states and I know I had the shape, skill-set, but you never know what your competition is like in Canada.

Q: Do you have a roommate in Tampa Bay and a place to live picked out?

Auclair: My roommate just got cut. We have two weeks to get an apartment and a car.

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