Barrie's Danny Vandervoort drafted third overall by CFL's B.C. Lions
McMaster Marauders wide-receiver Danny Vandervoort gets tangled up by Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive back Dustin Wilson in Hamilton in this file photo. Vandervoort, a Barrie native, was recently drafted third overall by the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions. POSTMEDIA NETWORK/FILE PHOTO
Amid all of the flash, hype and national attention, Danny Vandervoort never let himself get carried away.
Now, he's made local history.
Vandervoort was selected third overall by the British Columbia Lions in the Canadian Football Draft last week, the earliest someone from Barrie has ever been taken.
“I couldn't have ever thought that I would ever be the top receiver taken in the draft eight years ago,” Vandervoort said. “Playing (Huronia) Stallions (football) helped develop me.
“Growing up in Barrie, I was really fortunate enough to be here and to end up the highest-drafted player ever out of Barrie is really cool.”
Vandervoort had a draft party at his house on the Sunday night, where his family and friends watched on with him.
The former Bear Creek Kodiak got a call on his cell phone, and after a few words, he raced to find his parents.
“As soon as I got to my mom, she asked me who I was on the phone with, and I said B.C., and she instantly started crying,” Vandervoort said. “She was so excited for me.
“My whole family started bawling,” Vandervoort added. “It was a lot of emotions. I've been playing football for 15 years and this is a dream of mine, fulfilled, so there was a lot of emotion.”
After coming out of Barrie as a highly sought-after player, with no less than eight schools trying to sign him, Vandervoort settled on McMaster University.
The Marauders were a high-level program coached at the time by Stefan Ptaszek, who is now the offensive coordinator for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
It seemed like a natural possibility that Vandervoort might not even leave his university town to play, with the local connections in play.
“To be honest, I thought I was going to Hamilton (which had the fourth pick) because a lot of people were projecting that and saying they were interested, but B.C. took me and I'm really excited to be a Lion now,” Vandervoort said.
B.C. had the third and seventh picks in the draft, and the Lions determined that they couldn't wait to take the former Canada Interuniversity Sport (now Usports) Rookie of the Year.
“I had an idea (B.C. was interested) when I went to the combine in Regina,” Vandervoort said. “I had my interview with (head coach and general manager) Wally Buono and (director of Canadian scouting) Geroy Simon and Wally said to me that he thought I was the best receiver in the draft and they thought they should take me.”
Those words were not taken lightly by Vandervoort, who used to stay up late to watch Simon catch passes from the likes of Damon Allen and Dave Dickenson under the tutelage of Buono.
“It's two legends right there,” Vandervoort said. “Wally's been coaching since before I was born, and Geroy is in the Hall of Fame.
“It was really cool, after having gone to the combine, that Geroy was thinking that I was the best receiver in the draft.”
The season may be over a month away, but Vandervoort already has some homework.
“I got a call a couple of days ago from Khari Jones, the offensive coordinator, and he kind of introduced himself,” Vandervoort said. “He said he's excited to work with me and he gave me the playbook and a couple of receiver positions I should focus on learning, and the spot I played in university was the one he told me to try and learn the best.
“He's already trying to figure out plays for me, which is pretty cool,” added Vandervoort, who is looking forward to playing alongside and learning from the likes of receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux and quarterback Jonathan Jennings. “I'm really excited to work with Khari Jones and the coaching staff.”
Vandervoort will fly out to the west coast on May 24th for Lions rookie camp in Kamloops, but when he returns to Vancouver, he'll have some family ready and waiting.
“My uncle lives in Vancouver and he's going to help with (finding a place), so it's great that he's out there,” Vandervoort said. “He's actually had season tickets for the past five years as well, so it's really cool that I'll have that support out there.”
When he gets to B.C., expectations will be very high.
Vandervoort has drawn some lofty comparisons already, being considered in Vancouver to be a prototype of former Lions all-star Jason Clermont.
While some of the hype starts to run wild, Vandervoort won't get ahead of himself as he looks to become a fixture in the B.C. offence.
“I just try and do what I can, really,” Vandervoort said. “You hear the comparisons and it's an honour, but you just try and get onto the team any way you can, whether that's playing receiver or special teams.
“To have first that comparison with Andy Fantuz and Hamilton and now Jason Clermont in B.C., it's crazy that a kid from Barrie is being compared to some of the best receivers of all-time,” Vandervoort added. “Getting drafted is a lifelong dream fulfilled.”