Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Alouettes game in Ottawa will be homecoming for Nicholas Gendron

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Undrafted rookie receiver should get opportunity to make plays against Redblacks in Montreal’s final pre-season contest.

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ST-JÉRÔME — If playing an exhibition game in Ottawa is as good as it gets for Nicholas Gendron in his pursuit of a CFL career, the Alouettes rookie receiver will probably be content.

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Gendron, a Gatineau native, spent three seasons playing university football for the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Friday night’s exhibition finale against the Ottawa Redblacks at TD Place (7 p.m., TSN5, RDS, TSN Radio-690, 98.5 FM) is a big deal for the 25-year-old.

“It’s a big day. It’s my home stadium where I played,” Gendron said Thursday, following the team’s final walk-through at the Claude Beaulieu Multisport Centre, signifying the end of training camp. “There’s nothing like playing at home. It’s going to be a really special game, in front of family and close friends. It’s going to be special for them, too.

“I’d like to say yes, naturally, I’ll be nervous. But once the whistle’s blown, it’s just football. It’s the same game, just on a different level. At the end of the day you’ve just got to catch the ball. That’s what counts. I can’t be in the moment too much. I’ve just got to play one snap at a time. Don’t think about anything on the outside. Just do my job.”

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Gendron, 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, was one of eight players from March’s CFL invitational combine who made their way to the national workout event. Despite a quick time of 4.59 seconds over 40 yards, Gendron went undrafted last month, only to receive a call from the Als one week into camp. Employed full-time as a security agent at the Ottawa airport, Gendron told his boss he wouldn’t be at work the following Monday.

In eight games last season, Gendron caught 31 passes for 535 yards while scoring two touchdowns. Over 22 games for the Gee-Gees, he made 69 receptions for 1,120 yards, scoring five times. While he has university eligibility remaining, Gendron will have a decision to make should the Als offer him a practice roster spot. He graduated with a degree in criminology with an eye toward a career in law enforcement.

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“I couldn’t be more happy,” he said. “This has always been my dream, to play to this level. This is an opportunity. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I’ll see what they can offer me or what’s going to happen once they make the team. I can’t answer that right now.

“For now I just want to make sure I make a play on every opportunity I get. And not regret anything.”

With safety Marc-Antoine Dequoy among 31 veterans not scheduled to play Friday night, Ottawa native Arthur Hamlin can expect significant on-field time as well. Hamlin played collegiately at Colgate in upstate New York, but spent many a night as a child watching the CFL’s Ottawa Renegades.

“It means everything,” said Hamlin, selected in the third round (29th overall) of this year’s Canadian college draft. “When I was 4 or 5, I remember going to games, falling asleep in the crowd. That’s a great place for me to play in. I’m happy to be in front of family and friends, which I haven’t experienced in a while. I just can’t wait to get out there, play on that field and feel right at home. Do what I do in front of everyone that’s watched my journey.”

hzurkowsky@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

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