Quebecers at the gates of the NFL


Pier-Olivier Lestage does not really remember the date of his last football match. Was it November 23 or 24, 2019? He is no longer sure.



Richard Labbé
Richard Labbé
Press

Fortunately, he hasn’t forgotten how we play football. So much so that he is one of the Quebec players who could be drafted by an NFL team at the end of the week.

“My last game, it’s been a long time, but I was able to go to Florida in January to participate in the Tropical Bowl,” he explains on the phone. Three days with NFL hopes, and a game we were able to play at the end, on the last day there. I was rusty the first day, but the last two were fine… ”

It was going so well that Lestage, a 23-year-old guard who played with the University of Montreal Carabins, could be chosen by an NFL team in the draft that begins Thursday night.

« In times of pandemic, I can’t get everyone around me, so we’re all going to watch this together on Zoom, my family and my friends… we are going to be about thirty together like that. Of course there is a certain excitement. At the same time, I don’t want to trivialize the draft, but it’s easy, if you want, to find yourself with a team … The most difficult is to stay!  »

He doesn’t have a favorite team, and he doesn’t want to be drafted by any particular team either. Above all, Lestage doesn’t want to say how many teams have shown interest in him over the past few weeks. It’s a secret that he prefers not to reveal.

“Regardless, I’m not going to be difficult… if I am drafted, so much the better, otherwise there is always the possibility of getting a contract as a free agent after the draft. « 

My dream is the NFL. Regardless of the city and the team, I’m going to go.

Pier-Olivier Lestage

Lestage used to be a hockey player, but he made the jump to the football fields when he entered high school. It is a choice he has not regretted, and today, here he is at the gates of the biggest league. Not just him; cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and tight end Bruno Labelle could also be drafted.

« There are Quebeckers every year, but there, three Quebec players in all, it’s pretty strong, » he concludes. I think that the better things are going, the more the players from Quebec will have these opportunities. This is a good sign for the future of football in the provinces.  »

Benjamin St-Just

PHOTO ANDY CLAYTON-KING, ARCHIVES ASSOCIATED PRESS

Benjamin St-Just

This former Spartans from Cégep du Vieux Montréal began his career at the University of Michigan, before moving to the University of Minnesota. The 6’3  » Montreal cornerback had some good times on the American university grounds, enough, anyway, to become a top prospect, who could even be drafted in the second round of the draft. With its size, however, it should come as no surprise that a team tries to make it a safety half. Regardless, barring some bad luck, he will most likely be on NFL field in September.

Bruno Labelle

PHOTO JOSEPH MAIORANA, USA TODAY SPORTS ARCHIVES

Bruno Labelle (87)

The 23-year-old tight end quickly left Quebec to race in the United States on NCAA grounds, and it was there, with the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, that he spent the last four. seasons. The Bearcats have been undefeated in the last shortened schedule, and Labelle took the opportunity to stand out in the right way. Like Pier-Olivier Lestage, he could be a late pick in the NFL Draft, or even sign a free agent contract if he is not drafted.



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