Even in a sport populated by big men, offensive lineman David Foucault stands out like a mountain behind the foothills.
At 6-foot-8 and 315 pounds, Foucault was by far the biggest player at the BC Lions recent mini-camp. The Montreal native also ranks as one of the largest men on the Lions’ roster as the CFL team prepares for training camp.
Even with his size, Foucault understands the big shoes he’s trying to fill after coming to B.C. from Montreal in a trade for Jovan Olafioye, the CFL’s most outstanding lineman in 2012 and a six-time CFL All-Star.
“There is a little bit of pressure,” Foucault said. “I know he was an all-star and here for a long time.
“I think it’s a good pressure because I (want to) put myself to be on the top and at a high level. That’s why I work hard. I want to be like him. I have to show that.”
The amiable 28-year-old is one year younger than Olafioye, two inches taller and maybe 10 pounds lighter. While Olafioye was a proven commodity, Foucault is still a raw talent bursting with potential.
“He’s a big, big man,” said Wally Buono, the Lions’ head coach and general manager. “He moves well. He’s competitive. He enjoys football.
“You want to see a guy with a work ethic, you want to see a guy that has the physical skills. You also want to see a guy that enjoys being out there. So far, I’ve been very pleased.”
Foucault admits he’s still shaking off some rust. He was released by the NFL Carolina Panthers during training camp last year and spent the rest of the season at his parents’ home, waiting for the telephone to ring.
“I just trained,” said Foucault. “It’s tough because, for your future, you don’t know what can happen.
“It’s a lot of fun just to play football again, to compete. It’s been a long time for me. Just to be on the football field, I’m really happy.”
Foucault played four seasons with the University of Montreal Carabins, making the switch from defensive line to offence in 2011. He was part of the Carabins team that won the 2014 Vanier Cup and was selected fifth overall by the Montreal Alouettes in that year’s CFL draft.
Foucault decided to sign as a free agent with Carolina and made the 53-man roster. He appeared in five games during the 2014 season playing both right and left tackle.
His only start was in October 2014 when he played at left tackle, protecting quarterback Cam Newton’s blind side, in a Thursday night game against New Orleans.
“No pressure,” Foucault said with a grin. “I was very happy to be a starter.”
“I usually play tackle but if they ask me to play guard, I will play guard. If the coach tells me to be centre, I have to do it.”
Lions’ OL David Foucault
Foucault spent most of 2015 on Carolina’s practice roster before being released. He still enjoyed his time with the Panthers and praised Newton.
“It was fun,” he said. “He’s a good guy. He’s very enthusiastic on the field.
“It was a nice experience out there.”
The Lions decided to trade for Foucault’s playing rights when they couldn’t agree on a new contract with Olafioye. Anxious to resume his football career, Foucault signed a three-year deal with B.C. and was happy to attend the mini-camp.
“I want to be a starter so I want to be familiar with the system and the playbook,” he said.
During the mini-camp Foucault played both tackle and guard.
“I usually play tackle but if they ask me to play guard, I will play guard,” he said. “It’s a bit different but I have to do them both.
“If the coach tells me to be centre, I have to do it.”
He also is re-adjusting to the defence lining up one yard away.
“It’s the biggest adjustment,” Foucault said. “The D-linemen are smaller (here) but faster.
“You have to . . . be more patient. When you have no yard, like down south, you have to go fast and be more physical. Now I have to be more patient.”
Wally Buono’s busy off-season included acquiring David Foucault from the Als (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
Foucault, who wears his long blond hair in a ponytail tucked under his helmet, also showed his aggressive streak by being involved in a minor scuffle during the mini camp. He later shrugged it off as part of the game.
Buono said Dan Dorazio, the Lions’ veteran offensive line coach, met with Foucault and came away impressed with his intelligence and understanding of the game.
“You get a guy who has been in the NFL for the two years he was there, obviously the football culture is big there,” said Buono. “That has helped him be a guy who understands football.
“That kind of guy is going to help your team.”
The additional of Foucault gives the Lions the option of starting an all-Canadian offensive line along with Cody Husband, Hunter Steward, Jas Dhillon, Kirby Fabien and Charles Vaillancourt.
“If you can do that it gives you opportunities somewhere else to improve your team,” said Buono.
Over the last three years Foucault has spent a lot of time practising but has seen little game action. Instead of being frustrated over the past, he’s excited about what he can contribute to the Lions in the future.
“I have to step forward one step at a time,” he said.
“I just want to play football. I want to (be) my best on the team. I want to be a starter on this team. I will put in all the work I can do.”