Laurent-Duvernay Tardif has another Canadian to speak French with in the Kansas City Chiefs locker-room.
The Chiefs agreed to terms with Canadian offensive lineman Ryan Hunter on Saturday night after Hunter was bypassed in the NFL draft. Duvernay-Tardif, a native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., who’s also a starting offensive guard with Kansas City, spoke with Hunter via telephone Friday night.
“He gave me a call wishing me good luck even if I didn’t go to Kansas City,” Hunter said. “But now that we’re on the same team, French-Canadians are taking over the state of Missouri.
Kansas City drafted Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft, No. 200 overall, out of McGill University, where Duvernay-Tardif was attending medical school. The six-foot-five, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif is expected to earn his medical degree sometime this spring.
Duvernay-Tardif made his first NFL regular-season start Sept. 13, 2015 and has been a starter with Kansas City ever since. On Feb. 28, 2017, he signed a five-year, US$41.25-million contract extension with the Chiefs.
The six-foot-five, 318-pound Hunter was a versatile three-year starter at Bowling Green, seeing action at fullback, centre, tight end, both tackle positions and left guard. The native of North Bay, Ont., was projected as a late-round selection or priority free agent heading into the draft.
But after going undrafted, Hunter had a decision to make as Sasha Ghavami, the agent for both Hunter and Duvernay-Tardif, said Hunter had upwards of six other teams vying for his services.
Embarking on an NFL career with Kansas City is the culmination of a seven-year journey for Hunter. He left North Bay at age 16 for Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y., hoping to improve and increase his odds of playing collegiate football.
Hunter lived with a family in Buffalo while completing high school there and even watched the NFL draft there, enduring a roller-coaster Saturday with friends and family nearby.
“Oh my god (Saturday) was such a long day,” he said. “Knew I wasn’t going to get picked up early but once the sixth round hit teams started calling.
“But when things don’t start going your way, you get worried and your mind starts to wander. I was fortunate to have all my friends and family from high school and college growing up with me to kind of keep me level-headed. Man, I’ll never forget this day for the rest of my life.”
Hunter will join the Chiefs this week for mini-camp and is motivated to begin proving himself.
“It’s all positive now,” he said. “I just needed that one opportunity to make a team.
“I think I can do that in Kansas City and really show coach Reid that I deserve to make the roster.”
More than 20 NFL scouts watched Hunter perform at Bowling Green’s pro day last month. He also excelled in the classroom, receiving multiple MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete (2015-17) and Academic All-Mac (2014-2017) honours.
He earned his criminal justice degree before starting his Masters of Business Administration last spring and wants to attend law school.