SHERBROOKE, QC — Two weeks into training camp, Marc-Olivier Brouillette is in the thick of a battle for a new starting position within the Alouettes defence.
But the former Université de Montréal quarterback-turned-linebacker now competing at safety is ready for the new challenge.
Following a season which saw the Alouettes new-look defence under defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe lead the CFL in most defensive categories — Brouillette himself having a career campaign with 31 tackles, six sacks and one fumble recovery — the Montreal-native got right back to work, ready to build off of his 2013 numbers.
“After reviewing the whole season, it became obvious that on a personal level, I left a lot out there,” explained the versatile defender who nevertheless excelled last season when called on to fill in for injured starting linebacker Kyries Hebert.
“There were a lot of plays that I could have made that just got away from me, correctable things — the fundamentals — tackling especially, and that’s all stuff that I’ve worked on,” continued the fifth-year Alouette who spent the winter studying film and training near his off-season home in the West Palm Beach, FL area.
“So it feels good to be back and to be competing. On a whole, it’s also the first time in my five years here that we’ve had the same defensive coordinator for two years in a row, which altogether has allowed us to hit the ground running. We’ve got a lot of guys who have played in this system, and it shows.”
But 2014’s new challenges — new position, new year, new goals — aren’t all that’s keeping the naturally competitive 28-year-old motivated throughout camp.
This year he’s getting an extra little push from home.
“I’ve just missed my wife and my daughter so much,” admitted the newest Alouettes father, whose wife gave birth to their first child, London, in early May. “It’s what’s kept me going.”
“All the people I had spoken to leading up to the birth of my daughter had told me ‘it’s gonna change you’ and I guess you don’t really know quite what to expect until that moment you set your eyes on her and you understand what everyone’s talking about. It hits you, and you can’t really explain it, but you know what it is.”
So then speaking of change, have any of those new fatherly instincts kicked in yet on the campus of Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, QC?
“Yeah, you know, sometimes the younger guys, the rookies, they’re whining, it’s hot, their feet hurt and you’ve just got to calm them down a little bit and let them know it’s all going to be ok.”