WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Gabriel Bagnell received a long-distance phone call overnight Thursday he won’t soon forget.
After watching the first two rounds of the CFL draft on TSN, and later following along on TSN.ca, the Truro native’s phone rang at 12:22 a.m. Friday. On the other end was a member of the Edmonton Eskimos organization, informing Bagnell he had been selected by the team in the seventh round, 57th overall.
“They told me before it was announced online so it caught me off guard,” said Bagnell, a six-foot-two, 240-pound defensive lineman. “It's been almost 12 hours and I don't think it's hit me yet.”
Bagnell, who played university football at Acadia for the past four seasons, attended the Eastern Canada Regional CFL Combine in Montreal but didn’t attend the National CFL Combine in Winnipeg this past March.
He received calls from two CFL teams this week. The Ottawa Red Blacks contacted him two days before the draft and the Eskimos spoke to him on Wednesday.
“Going for months on end not hearing a word from anyone was a little nerve-wracking because it is the assumption that no news is bad news,” he said. “I was assured that even with no call prior to the draft, there is always a possibility to get drafted or an opportunity to attend a camp. I was a little more hopeful in that sense and extremely excited at even the thought of an opportunity like this.”
Bagnell played high school football as a quarterback at Cobequid Educational Centre. He switched to the defensive line when he arrived at Acadia and acquitted himself well on the other side of the ball.
“I was moved to the defensive end position without really any prior experience of the position,” he said. “That was a rude awakening my first year. I'm glad I got through that, but it took much longer than I wanted and I only ended up starting for the Axemen, as a defensive end, in my fourth and fifth season.”
During his time with the Axemen, Bagnell posted 21 tackles and 16 assisted tackles along with 6.5 quarterback sacks. Most of his career statistics came in his last two seasons, with the 2016 season being his most productive with 12 solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles and five sacks.
His hard work over his last two seasons has paid off, as his dream to play professional football has made one step forward.
“Gab has always been a guy who worked extremely hard to be the best football playing athlete he could be on the field and in the gym and Edmonton decided he was worth the pick,” said Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins. “As a result of a very good Montreal regional combine, where Gab performed at the top in all tests for defensive front seven, it’s not a surprise he was gathering attention leading into last night’s draft.”
“We’ve always had student-athletes who will train and give everything on the field and off and Gab is no exception. Graduating this past fall with three As and a B+ in business, I know Gab will do everything Edmonton asks and will continue to be a great teammate. We are very proud of Gab.”
CFL rookie camps begin May 16, with main camps beginning on May 20 and preseason play beginning June 9.