The 6-foot-2, 293-pounder from Rimouski was among 84 prospects showcasing their skills ahead of the CFL national and global drafts on April 30.

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WINNIPEG — Nathaniel Dumoulin-Duguay doesn’t have any problem with football coaches yelling instructions or criticism.

The offensive lineman out of Laval University spent almost a year in the Canadian Army and says basic training included long days starting at 4 a.m. and military personnel barking out orders.

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“It’s like on TV, maybe like worse,” Dumoulin-Duguay said with a smile on Sunday after this year’s CFL national combine wrapped up in Winnipeg.

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“I found through the army, I felt like it was a little bit of the same thing like football, so that’s why I love football. I love the discipline of football. If coaches are yelling at me or something like that, I’m used to it.”

The 6-foot-2, 293-pounder from Rimouski was among 84 prospects showcasing their skills for league coaches and general managers, all with the aim of being selected in the CFL national and global drafts on April 30.

When the CFL Scouting Bureau released its winter draft rankings in January, Dumoulin-Duguay was listed at No. 18. The spring edition comes out in early April.

Seven of the top 12 players in the winter rankings were offensive linemen, but they weren’t at the combine because of prep for the NFL draft (April 25-27).

That gave Dumoulin-Duguay more opportunity to make a good impression. Offensive lineman Christy Nkanu, a Montreal native out of Washington State, was also at the combine and was the only other offensive lineman in the top 20 of the winter rankings (16th).

Coaches at the combine made daily picks for the top player on offence and defence during practices. Dumoulin-Duguay got the nod for Day 2.

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Former CFL coach, general manager and current TSN analyst Jim Barker watched the prospects and talked to Dumoulin-Duguay.

“He was in the army, which gives him that discipline,” Barker said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s one of the great young men I’ve met at one of these combines.”

The only question mark about Dumoulin-Duguay is he hasn’t played a lot of university football, but he has the potential to get a lot better, Barker said.

Dumoulin-Duguay said he wasn’t focused at school and it led him to go into the army from March to December 2018. After basic training, he needed to improve his English and took six months of language classes before he could be posted to Vancouver or Halifax.

He played senior football while taking the courses and his coach convinced him to return to the game instead. He went to Laval, but a high-ankle sprain limited him to four games in 2021. He played all eight games the following season, winning the Vanier Cup as national champions and being named a U Sports first-team all-Canadian.

He played the entire season last year and was a second-team all-Canadian. He got an invite to the East-West Bowl, which is for the top Canadian university players eligible for this year’s CFL draft.

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At the combine, he was the fastest offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash, clocking 5.16 seconds. He tied for third with 25 reps in the 225-pound bench press and his vertical jump was 30 inches.

Dumoulin-Duguay was proud of his 18th ranking in the winter list and his combine performance, although he didn’t practise Sunday because of a tweaked hamstring.

“The tests I’ve done during the combine, I think that went pretty well,” he said. “I’m very happy with that, so it shows the CFL teams that I’m ready for the big league.”

HIGH HOPES

Barker said the combine revealed teams have good options for the draft, particularly if they’re looking for a linebacker with some pro experience such as Joel Dublanko.

The Aberdeen, Wash., native recently became eligible for the draft after receiving dual citizenship because his father was born in New Westminster, B.C.

Dublanko (Cincinnati) spent some camp time with the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. He played one XFL game last year and then seven with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars.

“I think he goes in the top three picks,” Barker said. “He’s the most sure-bet guy to come into a draft.”

The Edmonton Elks hold the first pick. Coincidentally, Dublanko has family in Edmonton.

Three of the four receivers in the top 20 winter rankings attended the combine.

Barker described No. 20 Kevin Mital (Laval) as a big, good blocker and pass catcher similar to Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski.

Mital, the 2022 Hec Crighton award winner for most outstanding U Sports player, was the coaches’ top offensive player for Day 3 of the combine.

“I think that you’re going to see into the third and fourth rounds, guys who can legitimately play,” Barker said of the coming draft.

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