April 13, 2018

Chagnon Tackles Studies And Year Two In Den

The pre-game vibe inside a pro football locker room usually provides a variety of routines. Some players get pumped up by grooving to whatever lively song is playing on the universal speaker. Others get ready by listening to their own music.

We have a hunch Frederic Chagnon‘s playlist differs somewhat from that of his teammates. The second-year Lions’ linebacker/special teams standout usually gets in the gridiron mood by listening to Celine Dion. Hey, whatever works right? Celine has done the trick for Chagnon since his junior year at the University of Montreal in 2015.

“One of my teammates and me were watching film with our coach and just for fun we put Celine Dion and some other Francophone music on,” recalled Chagnon with a laugh.

“From that moment it was Celine all the way. It’s a weird routine, but I like it.”

As the top Canadian prospects prepare to hear their name called in the May 3rd CFL Draft, members of the 2017 class are looking to turn heads in year two. Chagnon is one of three Lions selections from last year, along with Daniel Vandervoort, Junior Luke and Jordan Herdman, that suited up in all 18 regular season games.

The third-round selection made his mark on special teams, picking up 11 tackles and proving himself as one of the unit’s more reliable foot soldiers. Now he looks to build on that in year two.

“That was my main goal, to play in every game and contribute on special teams,” said Chagnon.

“Although I could have played better, I felt I exceeded my own expectations. I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished. Along with contributing a little more on the defence, I want to be a special teams force again this season.”

It will once again be one of the biggest questions going into camp: who will the defence count on at WILL linebacker? Micah Awe solved that problem in year one of post-Adam Bighill. Now with Awe trying his hand at the NFL, there is no shortage of candidates on both sides of the ratio coin. Should the unit look to play a Canadian in certain packages, Chagnon and Herdman could see some opportunities providing they show enough in what should be an intense training camp battle.

“I always love competition. This camp will be good for me,” said the 2014 Vanier Cup champion.

“When I look at our linebackers, it is the same across the board: we all want to compete. It’s going to be good to get on the field with them again. Jordan and I roomed together on the road and we pushed each other as rookies. We pushed each other every practice, every game and always challenging ourselves to be better.”

That task of being better will be a big training camp theme for the special teams unit itself. Having the fiery Jeff Reinebold in charge that unit should make Chagnon’s second training camp even more motivating. The longtime CFL coach has a reputation of being tough, but fair with his players. Chagnon has received nothing but great reviews for his new coach.

“I have heard great things about Jeff from my old college Byron Archambault, who played for him in Hamilton. I can’t wait to work with him on a daily basis,” said Chagnon.

Before he immerses himself in the two-a-day practices and learning some new schemes from coach Reinebold, Chagnon has some studying to do. He is in Montreal finishing his degree in Business Management at the University of Montreal and is planning a post-football career in the financial sector. His studies have helped provide the perfect off-season balance.

“I’m up at six in the morning, in the gym by seven and it’s great to get the workout in early,” explained Chagnon.

“After that, it’s straight to class and then I’m studying in the evening. Rinse and repeat. It’s important to focus on football, but at the same time having something like school helps take my mind off it when I need to. It keeps me in a good mood and allows me to be more excited for training camp.”

Don’t fool yourself: once the semester ends on April 25th, it is all football. You know the Celine playlist is locked and loaded for the June 1st pre-season tilt in Calgary.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com