On to the CFL gridiron

Andrew Lue and Scott Macdonell signed after rookie camps

Andrew Lue signed with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes this season.
Andrew Lue signed with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes this season.

Of the four Gaels selected in May’s CFL’s draft, two have found steady homes on professional rosters.

Defensive back Andrew Lue, the 10th overall pick, signed a three-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes in late May, while the Ottawa RedBlacks locked up receiver Scott Macdonell for two years.

Fellow draft pick Matt Webster was initially released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but was signed to their practice squad last week.

Though young players lack the luxury of an extended contract, Macdonell is confident he’ll be staying in the CFL for the near future.

“I’ll be in Ottawa as long as I continue performing,” he said.

Now four games into his pro career, Macdonell is practicing with Ottawa’s special teams unit and their scout team, a group that emulates the opposition’s offence to prepare the RedBlacks’ starting defenders for their upcoming game.

“The harder we make it for those guys,” Macdonell said, “the easier it is on Saturday.”

In 2013, his third collegiate season with the Gaels, Macdonell tallied 39 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns.

His breakout performance was strong enough to catapult him up the draft order. The receiver was snapped up by Ottawa at 13th overall, despite not making an appearance on the CFL’s pre-draft prospect rankings.

Following his selection, Macdonell remained in Kingston until late May, working out with former teammates Derek Wiggan and Alex Carroll. Three days of rookie camp preceded the RedBlacks’ full training camp.

Moving up to the professional level means Macdonell has gone from big dog on campus to unproven rookie.

“I like the dynamic I’m in now,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot to learn and I don’t mind paying my dues.”

Part of those dues is extra work and preparation. For Macdonell, this means running routes and catching balls after practice, as well as working on fitness plans drawn up by RedBlacks staff.

The receiver stressed that he didn’t get to this point by exerting the minimum energy required. This way, he’ll be ready when his coaches call on him.

“Whenever I get my opportunity,” he said, “I’m going to seize it.”

Lue is the other Gael who’s already seized his pro football shot. The defensive back has registered five special teams tackles through four games with the Alouettes, second-highest on the squad.

“I tried to soak in the moment as much as I could,” he said.

Once the roses were adequately sniffed, Lue said he trained his gaze on the task in front of him.

“Any time I get on the field I want to give it my all,” he said. “Show I belong here.”

Last season, Lue contributed 23 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups for the Gaels. He’s currently playing on all of Montreal’s special teams units and backing up the Alouettes’ starting cornerbacks.

“Special teams is my contribution right now,” he said. “But defence is definitely on my mind. I study it all the time.”

With his college accolades behind him, Lue said Montreal’s training camp demanded his highest level of performance.

“[It was] such a long, gruelling process just to get to the season,” he said, adding that he was surprised by the pro game’s quicker tempo. “It seemed daunting the first day.”

Now that he’s left Queen’s, Lue’s found his focus on football is far less complicated.

“It’s a different lifestyle,” he said, “not having to run to class before or after practice.”

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