Brock Gowanlock took a big step forward in his football career last week.
The defensive end from Duncan who has spent the last four years with the University of Manitoba Bisons was tapped by the Montreal Alouettes in the eighth round of the 2020 Canadian Football League Draft on Thursday, April 30.
“It was definitely a cool feeling getting the call,” Gowanlock admitted the following day. “It hasn’t set in yet.”
Gowanlock was watching the draft on TV and following the draft tracker on his phone, but it was his mom, Janice, who saw it first, and started jumping up and down. Alouettes head coach Khari Jones called soon after to welcome Gowanlock to the team and say they take him seriously as a prospect, and Montreal’s scouting director called as well.
That wasn’t the first time the Als had been in touch with Gowanlock.
“I had spoken to them the day of the draft,” he said. “And we had a video call a couple of weeks ago.”
In fact, Gowanlock had a sneaking suspicion he might be bound for Montreal.
“It was my gut feeling,” he recalled. “I just got a good feeling from them right away. We kind of hit it off.”
In a normal year, CFL training camps would convene in May, and the season would open in June but coronavirus has forced those plans to change. Camps have been postponed indefinitely, but Gowanlock is hoping for a July start.
“Hopefully that gets underway and we can get the season going before September,” he said. “That would be good.”
As a defensive end, Gowanlock doesn’t expect to compete for a starting spot this year, and figures he is more likely to earn a roster spot as a back up and special teams player.
“Not a lot of players come out of USports and get a starting spot on defence,” he acknowledged. “But that’s something I’m working on, for sure.”
Having used just four of his five years of USports eligibility, Gowanlock could return to the U of M for one more campaign if he doesn’t crack the Als roster, which wouldn’t be a disastrous option, either. This past season was the Bisons’ best since he joined the team, as they went undefeated at home and put up their first winning record in that time.
“It would definitely be a good learning experience to go to a pro camp and put my skills to work at a lower level,” he said. “It would be good to come back with the boys and try to win a championship. We’ve been moving forward the last couple of years.”
Like students across Canada, U of M students were sent home early because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still managed to finish classes online before the end of April. The Bisons’ football season takes place in the fall, so it was not effected.
Prior to joining the Bisons, Gowanlock spent two years with the Langley Rams junior team. Before that, he grew up playing football in the Cowichan Bulldogs system, as well as rugby with the Cowichan Rugby Football Club and Cowichan Secondary School. He fondly recalls the Cowichan football community, and remembers the work ethic players learned from coaches like Opie Williams, Ross McCauley and Jeff McDonald.
“They wanted us to be the best football players we could be, and the best team we could be,” Gowanlock said. “They gave us the skills to get on to the next level. It creates a belief in yourself which is something that can project at any level. I’m happy to represent those teams. We did have a lot of good teams when I played there. I hope I can make them proud and put Cowichan on the map a bit.”