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May 21, 2019

Camp Notebook | Landing The Big Catch

BC Lions Training Camp 2019

Joey Augustin knows all about the thrill of a big catch, both on the field or out in the open ocean. Fitting because, as you’ll find out, the training camp hopeful equates the task of trying to crack a pro football roster to his other favourite hobby: deep sea fishing.

Spending his early childhood years in both Miami and Kissimmee, Florida before relocating north to Virginia, the first-year Lions receiver would often be found on the water.

“I used to love it. My father and I would go fishing a lot,” said Augustin.

“In Miami, you could catch whatever. You could get mahi-mahi, kingfish and all types of deep sea fish. For me, it was fishing, football and a little basketball. Florida is a huge football state.”

Trying to catch a spot on the 2019 Lions roster can be a whole other challenge, but through the first three days of practice in Kamloops, the 6’4┬á target has demonstrated he can make the big play. Augustin was especially noticeable at the Tuesday morning session.

“I’m loving it, just taking it day by day,” he said.

“It’s a different atmosphere, a different altitude here in Kamloops so I’m trying to control my breathing and things like that. The guys are cool, I’m learning the playbook and just trying to get better and better each day.”

Working with a solid crop of receivers that the Lions have in their stable can also do nothing but good for a rookie in Augustin’s shoes.

“Man, that’s honestly a blessing to work with some of the best players in this league, ” explained Augustin.

“I’m blessed to be on the same field with Duron Carter and Burnham. Those guys are the type of premiere players right there. They are going to give you the standard of what you should be doing in practice to be great in the game.”

Like many of these lesser-known prospects, Augustin turned a lot of heads on his path to the pros. He spent four years at the University of Charleston, leading his squad in receiving yards for three of those and setting both school and conference records with four touchdowns in one game during his junior year.

After an appearance in 2017 rookie camp with the San Francisco 49ers and a couple of failed attempts at landing in the Arena league, he found himself playing for the Independent American Football League’s Radford Nitro. It was there where he first landed on the Lions’ radar and made a point of brushing up on the ins and outs of the Canadian game as much as he could.

“When I signed in March, I immediately stopped doing NFL work and was strictly studying the CFL game,” explained Augustin.

“The bigger ball, different motions, the waggle all of that stuff I had to prepare for. I had to be ready because the IAFL was a different experience. It’s not at the level of either the NFL or CFL, but that was still a good experience to be back on the field and stay on the radar.”

The bottom line for many eager prospects is being told you’re not good enough to crack a roster can be a tough thing to go through. Not everyone recovers from that. Augistin used his 49ers experience as a catalyst to get better and prove he can still play this game for a living.

“I learned a lot about myself,” said.

“Coming from Division II, I had not put in the work I needed to and as a result, didn’t come into camp as focused as I am right now. It was just a learning process. I was young and immature. God does things for a reason. He allowed me to leave San Francisco, go back to school for a year and see how the real world is. It’s crazy. Now that I have been granted another chance to play football, I’m going to take this as serious as possible.”

And when things aren’t going his way on the field, he can look back on his successful fishing expeditions as motivation.

“You’ve got to be patient. All of the great things in life are worth waiting for. I entered camp third on the depth chart and got to move up after an injury. You just have to worry about what’s in front of you.”

Who knows? Perhaps the brass has found an unknown kingfish.

Training Camp Day 3- Getting Past The Meat and Potatoes

With Lions players getting ready for their first padded session of camp on Tuesday afternoon, the sense among most of them was that the early ‘meat and potatoes’ stuff is coming to an end. With only four more days to prepare for a pre-season visit to Edmonton, the padded sessions should come with lots of emotion and that’s especially true for the big boys up front.

After missing the first two days of practice to rest some bumps and bruises, veteran Joel Figueroa could hardly contain his excitement when talking about some of the new additions and the overall new attitude.

“It’s definitely different,” the former Miami Hurricane said.

“We have some guys who were here last year that know the system and can help coach the other guys up. It’s not only coaches doing the coaching, but it’s also a bunch of the leaders putting in a lot of work and bringing the young guys along so that’s making the whole process much smoother.”

Even veterans like ‘Fig’ have to deal with their annual adjustments. In his case, it’s working with new offensive line coach Bryan Chiu.

“He’s a great guy,” chuckled Figueroa.

“As you said, he’s been in the league a long time, played what, 13 years? So he understands the ups and downs and how hard you’ve got to work. I really think that’s good, especially for the young guys. They want to come in, want to relate and get feedback from someone.”

Other standouts besides Augustin in the morning session included fellow rookie receivers Jamaal Jones and Gerardo Alvarez who is now affectionately known as ‘Chapo’ to his Lions teammates. On defence, defensive backs D-Londo Tucker, one interception in team drills, and Dominique Termansen both had strong showings.

Sick Bay: the injury Augustin was referring to is that of Shaq Johnson (lower body) who has missed the last two days of practice as a precaution. Mexican defensive lineman Octavio Gonzalez remains out with a broken foot.

Training Camp Schedule

The Lions were to be back on the field Tuesday afternoon from 3-5:15 for the first padded practice of camp. Wednesday morning marks the first back-to-back practice situation for this year. They will be on the field at 8:30 AM and after a 20-minute hydration break at 9:25, will continue until 11:45 AM. All practices at Hillside Stadium are open to the public.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com