Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.
Dion Pellerin took an interest in football early in life, regularly attending B.C. Lions games as a child. He began playing the sport in grade nine at the encouragement of his father — a former player himself — and took naturally to the game
The versatile athlete played on both sides of the ball for the majority of his high school career, predominantly at running back and linebacker. The team had a relatively small roster, so Pellerin even spent time at fullback and guard due to injuries.
Pellerin garnered a number of scholarship offers from across the country including Regina, Queen’s and Waterloo. One of the things that attracted him to Waterloo was his desire to help develop a program that hadn’t achieved much success in recent years.
“It’s not bad to join a program that’s already established as a winning team, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to join a young program and help build it into something more developed.”
The Warriors won just two games from 2013 to 2016, posting a cumulative 2-30 record. The club has finished 4-4 in each of the past three seasons, however, with quarterback Tre Ford winning the OUA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2018.
“Coach [Chris] Bertoia has been building something here for the past few years and it’s been a real joy to be part of. It’s worked out for me. Helping build a program from going 0-8 in my first year to being a contender in the league was a pretty good feeling.”
The Rams and Golden Gaels wanted Pellerin to join the team at strong-side linebacker, while the Warriors saw him as a potential star at running back. That factored into his decision to join the program that would start a quick ascent in years to come.
“Waterloo was the only school that wanted me to keep playing running back, so that was something that stood out for me. I loved playing linebacker in high school but I felt I had more to offer at running back. I wanted to continue playing offence at the university level.”
That versatility is what could make Pellerin the first running back off the board in this year’s draft. While still proficient as a ball carrier, the Abbotsford native will contribute as a fullback and on special teams in the CFL. The other aspects of the game are something Pellerin welcomes with open arms.
“I understand that Canadian running backs don’t always get the most opportunities to run the ball. I think I have the capabilities to be successful as a ball carrier in the CFL, but I also believe I can fill a hybrid role between fullback and running back. One-third of the game is playing special teams and I enjoy them. I was on every special teams unit in high school, so I’ve missed playing them.”
Pellerin describes himself as a goal-oriented person, something that has helped him achieve success in the classroom and on the football field. He’s taking the same approach heading into the draft on April 30.
“Playing in the CFL has been a goal of mine ever since I got to Waterloo. You set goals throughout your career — first making the East-West Bowl in your third year, then making it to a combine. My goal was set at the regional combine, so to get invited to the national combine was a big achievement for me.”
Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “He won’t be an every-down back, but he could get you out of a game while doing a lot of other things to help you win.”
Projected round: 3-4