Buzzin’ On Up To The Pros

Four Concordia Stingers Make the Leap From CIS to CFL

  • Stingers defensive lineman Quinn Smith was a top-10 pick in the most recent CFL draft, going to the Calgary Stampeders and will be joined by teammate and linebacker Max Caron. Photo Concordia Stingers

  • Linebacker Travis Bent will be one of two Stinger linebackers going to the CFL. Bent will be suiting up as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Photo Concordia Stingers

  • Former Stingers linebacker Kris Bastien will be one of four Stingers joining the CFL this year, as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Photo Concordia Stingers

  • Former Stingers linebacker Max Caron will be one of four Stingers joining the CFL this year, as a member of the Calgary Stampeders Photo Matt Garies

Tens of thousands of football players, whether in Canada or in the United States, all dream of making it on a professional roster. Most, if not all, work tirelessly to reach their goal, but only a few see their gridiron dreams come to fruition.

This summer, four former Concordia Stinger football stars will get their shot at making a Canadian Football League roster after being selected in this year’s CFL draft.

The hardest part of their journey is yet to come, but with draft day still fresh in their minds, they can breathe a little easier for the moment.

“It’s a relief,” said wide receiver Kris Bastien, drafted 26th overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“You’re there waiting for your name to be called and when it does you’re just so happy to get the opportunity to do this.”

Along with Bastien, defensive lineman Quinn Smith and linebackers Max Caron and Travis Bent were selected in the May 13 draft. All players have signed deals with their teams and are already in training camp, hoping to make an impression on their new coaches.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Smith, selected by the Calgary Stampeders in the draft.

“It’s a dream come true, after all the hard work that was put in.”

After impressing at the CFL draft combine, Smith tested positive for Stanozolol metabolite before the CFL Draft after undergoing testing on March 21. While rumours began to fly that his draft stock would fall, he was still drafted in the top 10 of the CFL Draft, going seventh overall.

A more recent test has since confirmed the presence of Stanozolol in Smith’s system. Because of this violation, Smith will be subjected to mandatory testing in the CFL. Despite the confirmation, Smith has no intent on appealing the decision, and is more focused on putting the situation behind him.

“It was a tough period but I’m not worried anymore,” said Smith. “I’m ready to play football.”

The speed and intensity of football is far superior at the professional level as opposed to the college level, as decisions on the field must be taken faster and preparation as well as effort is key. These former Concordia Stingers say they’re ready for it.

“The quality of the conference we played in helped a lot,” said Caron, drafted 16th overall by the Stampeders.

“It was so competitive. We played really tough [Université de Montréal] and Laval teams.”

“Luc Pelon, my linebacker coach, was such a huge mentor for me,” Caron continued.

“He stressed the basic fundamentals and helped me learn the specifics that were important for a linebacker.”

“Concordia opened my eyes to a vast world of football,” said Bent, a sixth-round draft choice who will be joining Bastien in Saskatchewan.

“The closer you get to the pros, the more developed the play schemes are and the more elaborate as well. It opens up your mind to a mental game.”

“The playbook was fantastic,” added Bastien. “The maturity level and work ethic of our team was very big. It’s something that was implemented and will stay with me for my whole career.”

With all four players playing on rival teams, the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division of the CFL, they understand that their friendships will be on hold come game day.

“I’m glad Travis is playing with me but it’ll be weird to see Max and Quinn in different colors,” said Bastien.

“I’m more concerned with my job. I don’t care if I have to run over an old teammate to prove my worth, but I’m excited,” said Bent.

Caron is thankful he ended up on the same team as his defensive teammate Smith, believing it could ease the growing pains he will likely endure going from university football to the pros.

“I expected Quinn to go top five but I wasn’t expecting to get picked on the same team,” said Caron.

“The first thing I thought of when I got selected was playing alongside him. It will help us get comfortable faster in this new environment.”

Nerves can get the best of newcomers once they arrive at the pro level, something these former Stingers are hoping to keep to a minimum as they focus on the task at hand—making their respective rosters.

“I understand that being an all-star in my first season probably won’t happen but I just have to go out there and show them what I can do,” said Smith.

“The competition for a roster spot will be tough.”

“Of course the first goal is to make the team, getting a foot in the door,” said Bastien.

“I know I’m going to have to play [special teams] first, but if I can perform well then I’m hoping to get some snaps on offence.”

“Short term, I want to make an impact wherever I can, whether it be on special teams or elsewhere, as long as I can be used and help the team,” said Bent.

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