A pair of St. F.X. X-Men football stalwarts has been drafted by Canadian Football League (CFL) clubs.
In the annual CFL draft, which took place May 2 in Toronto, the Montreal Alouettes selected Kaion Julien-Grant in the first round – 13th overall – while teammate Gordon Whyte got the call from the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the eighth round (67th overall).
“We were all excited to watch the draft unfold and to see X-Men football players Kaion and Gordon have their respective names called,” X-Men head coach Gary Waterman said in a St. F.X. Athletics press release.
“They both are outstanding young men who have worked extremely hard to earn this opportunity and we are very proud of them.
“The CFL teams that drafted them are getting two talented football players who will be productive on the field, good citizens off the field and great teammates in the locker room,” he added.
Julien-Grant, a 6’2”, 210-pound wide receiver and kick returner, is a three-time U Sports first-team all-Canadian. He was the 2018 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) most valuable player with the conference champion X-Men.
“It was neat to have Kaion selected so high in a very talented draft – he is a great player,” Waterman said in an interview with the Casket.
Describing his former player as “really deserving” of the recognition, he added Julien-Grant is a “tremendous and humble young man.”
In his final varsity campaign, the Toronto native led the AUS in receptions (49), receiving yards (638) and touchdowns (five).
Julien-Grant is sixth in AUS history with 4,563 all-purpose yards – more than any player in St. F.X. history – while he ranks fifth in the conference record books with 22 touchdown catches.
“He has that rare combination of size, speed and power,” Waterman said, when asked what will contribute to Julien-Grant having success at the professional level.
Although he has been on the CFL’s radar for quite some time, Julien-Grant really caught the attention of teams during the annual league combine.
“He was outstanding – a tough guy to deal with,” Waterman said of Julien-Grant’s performance on that national stage, noting his ability to achieve “separation from defenders.”
The veteran X-Men head coach said his combine performance “elevated his stock” for the draft.
Waterman noted the 2019 St. F.X. male athlete of the year has a tremendous lower half, which makes it difficult to knock him off routes.
“Obviously, Kaion made a great impression,” Waterman said, in noting the Alouettes used their first selection on Julien-Grant.
He also pointed out an X-Men football connection with the Alouettes, where former Blue and White standout Henoc Muamba plays linebacker.
“A veteran like Henoc will be a great help to Kaion as he makes the transition,” Waterman added.
As for Whyte, another Toronto native, Waterman described his selection as “well deserved.”
The 6’0”, 225-pound linebacker garnered more and more attention from scouts in the lead-up to the draft, having landed a spot at the crucial national combine with a stellar performance at a regional gathering for players.
“Gordon has improved each season,” Waterman noted of his time with the X-Men.
In his final AUS campaign, Whyte led the team with 51 tackles, which ranked fourth in the conference, as a key member of a stout X-Men defense.
“He impressed a lot of people,” Waterman said of Whyte’s performance as a long snapper in the 2019 East-West Bowl game.
He added the ability to contribute on special teams at the professional level will be a great key for Whyte.
“Gordon deserves the opportunity and we are really happy for him,” Waterman said.
A list of 2019 CFL draft selections is available at https://www.cfl.ca/draft-tracker/2019/.