CFL Pass

Als pick Julien-Grant 13th overall at CFL draft

The Grant family has come full circle in the Canadian Football League.

The last CFL team Karim Grant played for was the Montreal Alouettes in 2004. On Thursday, the Alouettes selected his son with their first pick of the CFL draft.

St. Francis Xavier receiver/returner Kaion Julien-Grant was drafted in the second round, 13th overall. Incidentally, the elder Grant — a linebacker out of Acadia — was selected 12th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2001 draft.

“Funny enough, he got me by one pick,” Julien-Grant joked during an interview Friday afternoon.

“I’m really happy for the opportunity. I’m glad Montreal took a chance on me. It was the last team my dad played for. I feel like there’s a connection there. We had a feeling, nothing too serious, that it could be Montreal just because of my dad.

“I think it’s going to be a really good fit. I’m looking forward to coming in and making an impact.”

Toronto’s Julien-Grant, a human kinetics student who completed his fourth season at St. F.X., was a three-time U Sports first-team all-Canadian who earned the 2018 Atlantic conference’s most valuable player award after leading the X-Men to an AUS championship.

The six-foot-two, 210-pound Julien-Grant headed into the draft ranked ninth on the CFL prospect list. He led the AUS last season in receiving touchdowns (five), receptions (49) and total receiving yards (638). He sits sixth in the conference record books in career all-purpose yards with a St. F.X.-record 4,563 and is tied for fifth in career receiving touchdowns (22).

He said he’s excited to join an Alouettes squad which struggled offensively last season. Montreal (5-13 in 2018) finished last in the nine-team league in points scored (345) and passing yards (3,869).

“It’s a place where I can grow,” Julien-Grant said. “I can come in and learn like a sponge and keep developing as a professional athlete.

“Now it’s all about training and getting ready. I can’t be complacent. There’s a lot of work to do.”

Julien-Grant was one of four AUS players selected in the draft.

Acadia defensive lineman Thomas Grant of Halifax was picked by the Ottawa Redblacks in the fourth round, 36th overall; Mount Allison wide receiver Malik Richards was taken by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the fifth round, 43rd overall and St. F.X. linebacker Gordon Whyte was selected in the eighth round, 67th overall, by Hamilton.

“I’m very happy for him,” Julien-Grant said of Whyte. “We have played together since high school. He’s a really hard worker so I’m very pleased for him.”

With the 2019 CFL draft in the rear view, the league turns the page to the next generation of top Canadian football prospects.

Fifteen AUS players — including Acadia running back Dale Wright, the conference’s most outstanding player in 2017 — will suit up for the U Sports East-West Bowl, which serves as the first step to identifying future CFL talent.

The league released the rosters on Friday.

Joining Wright are Acadia teammates Rory Kelly and Jadin White-Frayne, each defensive backs, linebacker Bailey Feltmate, receiver Cordell Hastings and quarterback Hunter Guenard.

Also named to the East squad were: Saint Mary’s defensive backs Justin Julien and Jordan Angove and running back Liam O’Brien; St. F.X. kicker Kieran Burnham and offensive lineman Jonathan Zamora; Mount Allison defensive lineman Marshall Esokpunwu, linebacker Dylan Cormier and offensive lineman Nicholas Oppong and Bishop’s receiver Nathan Walker.

The 17th annual top prospects game will be held May 11 at Carleton’s MNP Park in Ottawa.