Simeon Rottier will soon be a small fish in a big pond -if a six-foot-six, 290-pound offensive lineman can ever be considered small. But heading into today's CFL Draft, he's definitely the top dog.
The third-year U of A Golden Bears all-star tackle was a first-team CIS All-Canadian is rated as the No. 1 draft-eligible player by the CFL's Amateur Scouting Bureau.
It's not a bad place to be in, considering he didn't even start playing football until after high school.
"First learning the game, that was pretty surreal and a good experience," he said. "Either you can play or you can't, and you find that out as you go along. For me, it was just something I always dreamed of doing."
Growing up in Westlock, Rottier was a basketball and volleyball player in high school, getting his first taste of the gridiron with the Edmonton Huskies. After winning back-to-back Canadian Junior Football League championships in 2004 and '05, Rottier joined the Bears. All along, he received tutelage from his second cousin and former Edmonton Eskimos lineman Tim Prinsen.
"He's been there the whole way and is a big support for me," said Rottier, who has gotten some helpful hints. "Just realizing that it's a business at that level and you treat it as such and be professional how you handle yourself on the field and off the field."
Rottier appeared in the 2009 East-West Shrine Game in January in Houston, Texas, where the top third-year talent in the country was showcased alongside NCAA players.
"I'm not holding my breath on the NFL or anything, but once I get into a pro career I've got to focus on making the team and everything," he said. "I'll definitely knock on those doors. If I did get a shot, then my window is maybe in the next three or four years, I imagine. It's all a new experience for me."
For now, it doesn't matter to Rottier whether he plays north or south of the border.
"If you get to play a sport you love for a career, then I'd go anywhere to play," he said.
If he ends up going first overall, that would mean Rottier would join the Hamilton Ticats, who finished with a league-low 3-15 last year and also own the third-overall draft pick. The Toronto Argonauts will pick second.
"If they take me first, that's pretty neat. I would feel really honoured that they would consider me to be part of their building block," said Rottier.
"I look forward to being able to compete and contribute wherever I go."
It's been a hectic month so far for Rottier, who tied the knot with his wife, Jennifer, and was able to get away from football for a while.
"It was nice to go on a honeymoon for a week and just relax. I got a few phone calls there (from teams) too, but it was still really nice to chill a little bit," he said. "Leading up to the wedding was sure a little bit stressful with exams and everything. I ended up writing an exam after my wedding. It was a little bit crazy, but my wife is really understanding and there for me and my family is really supportive. I haven't had much time to think about the draft yet and all of a sudden it's right here and just hit me right in the face."