Noel Devine’s pursuit of NFL dreams has taken him to Canada where he plays for the Montreal Alouettes as their starting kick returner. He also is the second string running back for the team.
The Alouettes brought Devine in to help boost their kick return game. They saw what he did at WVU and he impressed them at a tryout in Florida. They thought his speed and shiftiness would translate well to the Canadian style of football.
Through the first three weeks of the regular season, Devine’s performance has been met with mixed reviews.
He averages 19.8 yards per return. While not bad compared to the rest of the CFL, many thought he would do better. The Canadian football field is ten yards longer and about 12 yards wider. The thinking with Devine (and Jock Sanders with Saskatchewan) is that if you give a player with his speed more open field to work with, they could find wider lanes to run through.
So far, that’s not really the case for Devine. He’s still learning.
“It caused me some difficulties,” Devine told the La Presse, “because I like to outflank the enemy from the outside. However, I found it better to run in the center of the land if there is an opening. The best way to use his speed is to run in a straight line. “
Spectators believe after watching Devine dart around the larger Canadian fields that it is a matter of time before he breaks a big return.
Alouettes head coach Mark Trestman believes that Devine’s learning curve isn’t all that steep. He believes another reason could be to blame on the former Mountaineer speedster averaging less than 20 yards a return.
“This is a collective work. Our “turners” must be more aggressive, but they must be given a chance in front of them blocking better. If everyone blocks his man, it will give us the opportunity to succeed in games. We missed a few blocks in our last game, and we focus on this aspect now, ” said Trestman.
When does Devine think the special teams will breakthrough?
“It’s a matter of time. The offense and defense are playing well, and it will be our turn soon. “
The Alouettes travel to Hamilton to take on WVU’s all-time leading rusher Avon Cobourne Saturday July 21 at 7:00 p.m.