TORONTO — Jean-Gabriel Poulin seems to like the idea of getting to tackle ball-carriers for a living.
The linebacker and 2017 Vanier Cup winner with the Western Mustangs is coming off a career season, recording 30 tackles while earning his second first-team OUA All-Star nod and first honour as a U SPORTS first-team All-Canadian.
Poulin hopes his successful season culminates with being selected in the 2018 CFL Draft on May 3.
“I know getting drafted is not automatically making the team or even playing in a game, but it would mean a lot and be extra motivation to keep working harder and get ready for camp,” said Poulin.
What Poulin lacks in size, at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds, he makes up for in heart. Poulin’s face lit up when describing his game, and it’s that kind of passion that should stand out for fans, analysts and scouts going into next month’s draft.
“I don’t think you can find somebody that loves football more than I do, and I’m not afraid to say that.”
Jean-Gabriel Poulin on his dedication to the game
“I don’t think you can find somebody that loves football more than I do, and I’m not afraid to say that,” said Poulin. “I’m so passionate about the game, I love the game so much that when I’m on the field, that’s the only thing you can see, just love and passion for the game.
“That’s the only thing you’re going to get from me.”
Poulin credits has father for his early love of the game. His dad played linebacker, and the ability to take down ball-carriers has been passed down in the form of 98 career unassisted tackles.
If Poulin isn’t one day starting at linebacker in the CFL, he’ll at least make an impact on special teams.
CFL.ca’s draft expert Marshall Ferguson has Poulin going 49th overall in his latest mock draft.
“Jean-Gabriel Poulin was the heart and soul of Western’s Vanier Cup Championship defence in 2017,” Ferguson writes. “He is a brick wall against most if not all U SPORTS running backs and receivers, able to effectively wall skill-position players where he would like in zone coverage and battle through contact on pass rushes and special teams.”
For Poulin, finally winning a Vanier Cup was the pinnacle of a four-year career at Western.
“In four years of really, really hard work and trying to put in place a culture at Western, we really wanted a winning culture and doing things the right way,” he said. “There were a lot of times we questioned ourselves — ‘are we doing the right things?’ — when we lost two Yates Cups in a row. But finally winning a Vanier Cup was a big feeling of relief that we finally did it.”
The CFL Draft takes place on May 3 at 8 p.m. ET.