Toronto, ON- For the second year in a row, a Québecer is playing for the Lombardi Trophy, as Anthony Auclair, a Université de Laval alumnus, looks to follow the footsteps of McGill’s Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end is in his fourth season in the NFL and has wasted no time making the jump from Canadian football to the American game.
When asked about the shift between the set of rules he had played with growing up and those that shape his pro-career, Auclair admitted that “I’m here in the NFL trying to figure out my English, the rules, everything was kind of hard at first. But I used to play football all the time growing up; I used to play Madden all the time growing up, so I kind of knew those nuances.”
Auclair was the first Rouge et Or alumnus to make an NFL roster after signing with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent. The 6’6”, 256-pound tight end drew 17 scouts to his pro-day back in 2017 after posting 17 catches for 229 yards in his senior season. The numbers aren’t too shabby by any Canadian tight-end standards but become all the more impressive when you consider that that isn’t the position Auclair has always played.
He spent his CÉGEP career in the spotlight as Champlain-Lennoxville’s quarterback and transitioned to tight end when he went to a tryout at Buffalo University. But even after that, Auclair never would have expected to be blocking 300+ pound men, yet here we are with him being used primarily as a blocker for the Buccaneers.
“If I block a defensive and Gronk is catching the ball 30 yards downfield and scores, they won’t see me out there blocking for him, but it’s called an assist,” said Auclair about his role with the team before adding that “sometimes it’s hard, but I don’t really mind it because I love my role and playing football.”
The introspection didn’t stop there as Auclair went on to explain the role that he credits Laval head coach Glen Constantin having played in his rise from U SPORTS to the NFL, saying that “the way he prepared me, the whole organization prepared me to get here just by doing things in a professional way.”
And the respect goes both ways. When journalists caught up with Constantin to talk about his former player, the coach credited Auclair’s work ethic for his rise through the football world, reminiscing about times when the Laval coaching staff would pass by Auclair working out in the facilities three or four hours after practice ended. “He just wanted to be the best player possible in his position.”
Always a coach, the Rouge et Or head man left off with some advice for Auclair, “He needs to prepare like a starter, in practices, he could be given a role like Travis Kelce and needs to contribute to preparing his teammates as well as possible.”
In terms of how Auclair should approach the game from a mental standpoint, Constantin wants to make sure his former player knows to “live every moment because the Super Bowl is something every little boy dreams about.”