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August 17, 2017

Bisons Camp | Arruda-Welch on Comeback trail

There are few players more motivated for the 2017 University of Manitoba Bisons football season than Marcel Arruda-Welch.

The second-year defensive back was on the fast track to success as a rookie last fall before a broken ankle ended his season after just one regular season game.

It was an injury that took place mere weeks after Arruda-Welch had already established himself as a premier playmaker, both in practice as well as in the team’s 50-7 preseason victory against the then-defending Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds.

“That was a big hit. He was a difference maker,” began head coach Brian Dobie. “We were facing their No. 1 quarterback (Michael O’Connor) and (Arruda-Welch) was playing against Alex Morrison, an All-Canadian receiver, and he just locked him down with a pick for a touchdown, dropped another pick for a touchdown against him and had a couple of knock-downs.

“That kid’s the real deal.”

Instead of dwelling on his misfortune, Arruda-Welch focused on what he could control. During the two surgeries that sidelined him for a total of six months, he stayed diligent watching film and analyzing the game he loves, while also rehabbing his foot.

“First it was walking, then I could start to jog. Then later on, a couple months later,  I got into the heavier stuff like running, breaking, doing footwork, working out,” Arruda-Welch recalled.

“It was long, it was hard, but I’m here now so it’s all good. I watched a lot of football when I wasn’t playing. I think I’m smarter about football than I was last year, and I think that’s going to help me a lot this year.”

Just mere days into training camp, the Garden City Collegiate product is showing few signs of his injury, but knows in the back of his head that he needs to be smart about not rushing too quickly to try and get back to where he was last season.

“There are certain aspects of the game that are going to come with time and there are certain things that I’ve been able to jump right back into being just as good as I was before,” he admitted.

“Things are going to take time, and I know that. And those things, with more practice, will come and I’ll get back to where I was eventually.”

Arruda-Welch couldn’t have picked a better time for his comeback, being grouped with a defensive backfield that Dobie has called the best since the 2007 Vanier Cup team.

Despite the praise, the rising star is all business, focusing solely on the here and now.

“We’re not them (the 2007 team), they’re not us,” said Arruda-Welch. “We’re gonna do what we do, we’re gonna fly around. We have really good veteran players that help out and then we have good young players, and I think that’s really gonna mesh well.

“And yeah, I think our secondary is going to be dominant this year. I want it to lead our defence, and I want to lead our defence.”