WOLFVILLE, N.S. - The thought of playing in the CFL started in Junior High School for Truro, N.S. native Gabriel Bagnell. A quarterback during his formative years of football, Bagnell was recently chosen in the seventh round (57th overall) of the CFL draft as a defensive lineman.
After High School football at Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro where he played as a quarterback for the CEC Cougars, Bagnell set his sites on Acadia.
"I knew that I had to play university football, and was fortunate enough to become an Acadia Axemen after my high school career. I was moved to the defensive end position, without really any prior experience of the position. 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," said Bagnell the morning after the May 3 evening draft.
Four seasons 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.
Bagnell attended the Eastern Canada Regional CFL Combine in Montreal, but didn't attend the National CFL Combine in Winnipeg this past March.
"I received two calls before the draft. One was two days before the draft from the Ottawa Red Blacks. The other was in the afternoon before the draft from the Edmonton Eskimos. Going for months on end not hearing a word from anyone was a little nerve-racking, because it is the assumption that no news is bad news. 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," noted Bagnell.
Bagnell received the news late last night before it was announced online.
"I watched the first two rounds in TSN, which aired from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., then I watched it on TSN.ca. You get a little more worried when your name isn't called. Then all of the sudden at 12:22 a.m. I received a long distance call and it was the Edmonton Eskimos congratulating me. They told me before it was announced online so it caught me off guard. It's been almost 12 hours and I don't think it's hit me yet."
His hard work over his last two seasons has paid off for Bagnell as his dream to play professional football has made one step forward. Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins indicated that he and the coaching staff were very happy for Bagnell's opportunity.
"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. As a result of a very good Montreal regional combine, where Gab performed at the top in all tests for defensive front 7, it's not a surprise he was gathering attention leading into last nights draft," said Cummins.
"We've always had student-athlete who will train and give everything on the field and off and Gab is no exception. Graduating this past fall with 3 A's 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," concluded Cummins.
Cummins expects several other of Bagnell's teammates to sign free agent deals with CFL teams since several players were eligible for the draft including Matt Nettle, Brandon Jennings, Keiler Cherry and Brandon Johnston.
CFL rookie camps begin May 16th with main camps beginning on May 20th.CFL rookie camps begin May 16th with main camps beginning on May 20th and preseason play beginning June 9th.