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May 11, 2016

Mike Couture: A rookie with local Connections

Michael Couture (52) OL Simon Fraser during the CFL combine in Toronto, Saturday March 12, 2016. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

May 12, 2016

They love his versatility, his toughness, and his upside.

And the bonus for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in selecting Simon Fraser University offensive lineman Michael Couture 10th overall in Tuesday’s Canadian Football League Draft?

He’s got some ties to the Manitoba capital that could crank up business at the ticket wicket.

“Both my mother and father, my whole family, is (originally) from Winnipeg,” said Couture during a media conference call this week. “I have aunts, uncles, cousins that all live there right now.

“I’m familiar with the city somewhat, but Goose told me it’s a good place, the coaching staff is awesome and I’m excited to play for Mike O’Shea because I heard he’s quite the coach, that he’s a good guy to play for.”

‘Goose’ would be Bombers’ centre, Matthias Goossen, a future teammate here and a past teammate with the Clansmen. The two were together at his dad’s home in Vancouver, along with an assortment of others, when Couture’s name was called out by the Bombers Tuesday.

“I kinda had a feeling that Winnipeg liked me throughout the combine and the whole draft process,” Couture said. “I was really happy where I went and I couldn’t be happier to get drafted by the Blue Bombers.

Matthias Goossen“(The draft) was pretty nerve-wracking. It started at 4 (p.m.) Pacific time and I had teammates, high school friends, aunts, uncles, my family, everybody in and right around 3:30 I couldn’t take a seat. I was pacing in front of the TV and had my cell phone in my hand.

“There was projections I would go early in the first or late in the first, early in the second. I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. I was a little bit nervous, but more excited to finally find out where I was going to be playing football in two weeks.”

Couture brings a great deal of versatility to a Bombers O-line that could use that and some more depth. In addition to Couture’s ex-SFU teammate Goossen, there is second-year man Sukh Chungh along with veterans Patrick Neufeld and Jeff Keeping, as well as fellow draft pick Zach Intzandt of McMaster (fifth round, 37th overall).

Couture made 37 starts during his college days, beginning at left guard as a freshman but also taking snaps at both right and left tackle and at centre.

Interestingly, Couture hasn’t played three-down football – with the yard off the ball at the line of scrimmage – since his days playing community football. SFU is in the NAIA, an American conference, while the B.C.’s High Schools Football Association is the only province that uses four-down rules.

All that said, Couture adjusted quickly at the CFL’s Draft Combine in March and was solid in the one-on-ones with defensive linemen who participated.

“I consider myself more of a patient offensive lineman and that’s something you need to have with that extra yard,” Couture said. “It wasn’t as big of a change as I thought it would be, honestly. I just had to set and wait to see what they were going to do, not give them my inside and go from there.”

Couture has modest goals for 2016: make the team, learn the intricacies of the trenches from one of the best O-line coaches around in Bob Wylie and – fingers crossed – see some action.

“I’d love to get some playing time,” Couture said. “I know the Bombers have some good O-linemen and it’s a good group of guys, but if I can make the full roster and get some playing time this year, that’s my goal.”