Notre Dame Cougar Jacob Plamondon has a laugh as he and U of C  Dinos head coach Wayne Harris sign a football contract at Notre Dame Thursday. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

RODE: Red Deer’s Jacob Plamondon relishes chance to play in CFL with Elks

After being invited to the U Sports national combine, Jacob Plamondon had a good feeling he would be selected in the CFL Draft.

But the six-foot-three, 240-pound University of Calgary Dinos defensive lineman had no idea it would be the Edmonton Elks who would call his name.

“That caught me off guard,” said the 23-year-old Red Deer native. “I never talked or interviewed with them, but it really didn’t matter. anywhere I went would be an honour.”

Jacob, who was picked in the second round, 19th overall, talked with new head coach Chris Jones the day of the draft (May 3) and with the special teams and defensive line coaches the day following.

By Sunday he was on the road heading north to prepare for the start of rookie camp Monday.

“It was a quick turnover for sure. I was drafted on Tuesday and Sunday was on my way to prepare to find a place to live in Edmonton,” he said.

Jacob, who has signed a contract, is excited to join a team in the rebuilding phase.

“Getting Chris J0nes back as a head coach is a huge win for the team and I‘m excited to be part of a redeveloping program looking to be the next team in the CFL.”

Jacob got into football in Grade 9, playing for the Notre Dame Cougars junior squad.

“I was attending Camille and some friends invited me and it clicked right away. It seemed to be the sport I was meant to play.”

He played defensive line for the junior squad, but once he moved into high school he saw action on a number of fronts.

“I played some tight end, slotback, tackle and guard, but I always played defensive line,” he said.

Cougars veteran coach Gino Castellan saw something special in Plamondon.

“Gino was the first to tell me to take football seriously as I had a future in it,” he explained. “That was in Grade 10 and ever since then I said OK take it seriously and develop myself as a player and push myself to be better.”

He also gave credit to Ian Rattan and line coach Pat Callan, who had experience at the U Sports level.

“Pat played a huge role in my development. I took everything he told me and when I got to the U of C it seemed like I had learned it all before, I felt I was a step ahead because of what he told me. It made a big difference in my ability to play at the university level.”

Plamondon made the travelling team his first season with the Dinos.

“I took some snaps on the defensive line, but I was primarily a special teamer,” he said,

Five years later — four years of playing time having missed the 2020 season because of Covid — he had 39 tackles — 31 unassisted — 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one pass deflection and one forced fumble. He also helped the Dinos win the 2019 Vanier Cup with a 27-13 win over the Montreal Carabins.

Jacob had the speed and quickness to make an impact on the defensive line — especially at end — but also on special teams.

“I was told in high school to be prepared to play special teams when I took the next step up to university and in university they told me to be prepared to play special teams in the CFL.

“Having played special teams I know how to play on that side of the ball and I’m prepared for that.”

Jacob will know only one player — J-Min Pelley, who was selected in the Supplementary Draft — in the Elks camp.

“I played a season with J-Min our Vanier Cup year, other than that I don’t know anyone,” he said.

There’s a possibility he may know Red Deer product Carter O’Donnell, who is a member of the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL.

“I honestly believe he’ll be in the States a bit longer, he’s that kind of player,” said Plamondon, who faced O’Donnell in high school and in university.

“He was with Thurber when I was in high school and at the U of A and I had the opportunity and honour to play against him. I’m thankful for that as he’s an unbelievable player and the opportunity to go against him made me a better player.”

Jacob went through medicals and introductions early this week.

“It’s a new phase for me but I’m excited to see what I can do … to showcase myself,” he said.

“I believe for my size I move well, get off the ball quickly and have the speed to play the defensive end. Plus I have the speed and quickness and with a bit of added size, which is a bonus, can make an impact on special teams.”

But no matter what, or where he plays, Plamondon is willing to listen and learn.

“I have to take what the coaches have to offer and learn from that … there is no limit to what I can learn and apply to my game.”

Despite not knowing many players on the roster, playing in Edmonton does have its benefits.

“It’s close to home plus I have family who lives in Edmonton and have a lot of friends who moved here after high school.”

Plamondon has less than a month before the CFL opens their exhibition season.

“It comes quickly,” he concluded.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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