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Football Gaels introduce prize recruit

January 24, 2014


For years Pat Sheahan has, at times, felt like the boy without a nickel, gazing into the window of the candy store, before coming home empty-handed.

After having coached at two universities in Montreal and raised a family there, he had developed impeccable contacts. He knew his way around. He’s bilingual. Sheahan was comfortable recruiting young football players there.

Still, there weren’t a lot of football players from Quebec who were finding their way to Queen’s. Philippe Champagne, Michael Patone, Jack Gaudreau: Not too many more. A province that was churning out enough outstanding football players to turn Laval into a perennial power and launch programs at Montreal and Sherbrooke was giving scant numbers of native sons reason to leave the province.

“I kept tapping my finger and my foot, thinking at some point there has to be one that can make it to Queen’s,” Sheahan said Friday.

Another one made it yesterday, when Brendan Coffey, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker from Vanier College — in the St. Laurent section of Montreal — signed his letter of intent to play football and study at Queen’s.

Coffey comes from a successful program. The Cheetahs have won the Quebec AAA CEGEP championship two of the last three years.

A politics student who aspires to law school, Coffey yesterday paid tribute to his parents, coaches and teammates.

“I’m the one putting pen to paper today,” he said, “but today is the accumulation of the hard work of a lot people who invested a lot of time and energy in me.

“I’m really excited to take that next step, to join one of the most storied programs in Canada.”

Sheahan said that with all the strong university programs in Quebec, it isn’t easy to convince talented athletes to leave home.

“It’s very difficult to get a blue-chip player out of that region,” Sheahan said. “There’s some tremendous options there. This young man is fluently bilingual. He could go (to university) in French if he wanted to.”

The process of recruiting Coffey took more than a year.

“It wasn’t just a five-minute conversation and he was headed to Queen’s,” Sheahan said. “It’s about a year and a half, from identification to tracking him, speaking to him. Recruitment is not just a cup of coffee anymore, pardon the pun.”

Coffey and his parents visited the Queen’s campus in June. “I think campus was a little bit more inviting in the month of June than it was today,” Sheahan quipped at the news conference where his new player was introduced.

“He’s an outstanding player. He happens to be coming into the program at a time when we’re graduating some outstanding defensive personnel. The timing is impeccable.”

Coffey, both of whose parents are lawyers, described himself as “a very cerebral player.”

“I’m not the most physically gifted, I’ve never been the strongest, never been the quickest,” he said, explaining he makes up for it with a zeal for analyzing videotape and studying opponents.

Recruited by Sherbrooke, Montreal and McGill, Coffey allowed that the latter and Laval both have prestigious law schools. “They were definitely options for me,” he said.

He said he chose Queen’s for reasons not only related to football.

“My ambitions aren’t necessarily to go pro,” he said. “Realistically, I’ve got four to five years left to play. I wanted to maximize those four or five years and I thought this was the perfect place, academically, as well as for football, to maximize those four or five years.”

Where the university was located was less of a factor for him, Coffey said, than finding the right fit.

“For me it was a meeting of the values,” he said. “My values comported very much with the values of this coaching staff, the players and the school.”

Hard work is foremost among those values, Coffey said.

“Football is a game for men and you’ve got to come prepared, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to be ready to go. There’s also honesty. If a player isn’t performing you have to have a coach who’s ready to be honest with him, tell him he needs to step it up.”


One Comment
  1. John Mac permalink

    All good news here, he might shake hands with # 84, another proud born & bred Montréalais 🙂

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