Alouettes' Spencer Wilson a jack-of-all-trades on offensive line
The depth chart for Day 5 of the Alouettes training camp had Spencer Wilson pencilled in as the starting centre.
But when the team started running plays at Molson Stadium Friday morning, the 6-foot-7, 336-pound Wilson was lined up at right tackle.
For Wilson, who signed with the Alouettes as a free agent after nine seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, it’s all part of the game.
“In my nine seasons with Calgary, I had starts at every position on the O-line and I came here to Montreal with the same mentality,” said Wilson. “I told the coach: ‘I’ll give you an honest effort and whatever position you want to throw me in, it’s up to you to do what you like and what’s the best for the team.’ ”
That doesn’t mean that Wilson doesn’t have preferences.
“I prefer right side over left and probably tackle over guard, but I can throw the ball through my legs,” said Wilson. “Mentally, I can play centre (but) it’s difficult. Centre is tough because, on top of having the extra stress of getting the ball back accurately, stepping up and (identifying) the front, it’s tough because you’re square with your feet. There’s no inside that you can rely on to protect in other positions. As long as you can throw your guy outside, you have a second to recover. At centre, there’s no option for that; they can beat you on both sides.”
Wilson’s versatility — he also served as the emergency kickoff man in Calgary and he once caught a pass for a two-point convert — has served him well during a career that has included three trips to the Grey Cup. He was a CFL All-Star at tackle in 2015 and 2016.
Wilson’s path to the CFL wasn’t an easy one. While most players go through university programs and are drafted, Wilson played junior football for the Calgary Colts and was a territorial pick of the Stampeders.
“I worked hard during my first years, doing two-a-days with both the Colts and Stamps in 2010,” said Wilson. “I had to prove myself as an undrafted nobody.”
Alouettes head coach Mike Sherman said having Wilson on the roster gives him options as he attempts to put together an offensive line. Import Tony Washington is set at left tackle, but the other four spots are up in the air until the Als figure out whether there’s another spot available for an import.
Wilson’s versatility might have worked against him last season. The Stampeders used him as the sixth offensive lineman, which means they plugged him in whenever there was an injury on the line.
When he became a free agent at the end of the season, he was looking for a change of scenery.
“I was looking for new opportunities and I wanted to see what was out there,” said Wilson. “I had never been a free agent and Montreal seemed very hyped to talk to and it seemed like the organization was definitely on the rise.”
There was also a personal reason to seek employment here. His wife, Maryse Dazé-Wilson, is from St-Sauveur.
“With my wife being from here, it was an added bonus,” said Wilson. “We have a little one on the way and … this seemed like the right next step in our life. We’re having a little baby girl shortly and the opportunity to raise our child out here, close to her family, it just made sense. I’m looking forward to pushing the stroller around and exploring Montreal.”