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Matthias Goossen pegged to centre new-look Blue Bombers
An anxious energy filled the air as Matthias Goossen sat with his fiancé and parents awaiting the start of the CFL Draft Tuesday.
They didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called.
Just after 4 p.m. Pacific time, commissioner Mark Cohon got the ball rolling by announcing the first pick belonged to the Calgary Stampeders, acquired from the expansion Ottawa Redblacks less than an hour earlier. The Stamps promptly used the pick to select offensive lineman Pierre Lavertu of Laval. Now it was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ turn. Again, it was a quick decision as they chose Goossen, a 21-year-old offensive lineman from Richmond who played four years of college ball at Simon Fraser University. As the Bombers’ selection was being announced, and amidst joyous mayhem, Goossen got a phone call from coach Mike O’Shea officially welcoming him to the team.
“I couldn’t hear the coach for like 30 seconds. I had to tell my dad to mute the TV,” chuckled Goossen. “Everyone was screaming. I could hear our neighbours cheering. It was crazy.”
The affable six-foot-four, 294 pounder had an inkling he might be heading to Winnipeg. The team had recently flown him in for a visit and private workout, and he figured they wouldn’t have done so without a good reason. But he never took the possibility for granted.
“Even though I might have had a feeling it only became real when it actually happened,” he said. “I feel really good about going to Winnipeg. There’s a new coaching staff, a new stadium and a positive feeling. And it was nice to see on social media people tweeting, saying it was nice to have me on board. That’s really cool. I plan to work as hard as I can to make the team and hopefully the coaches think I’m ready to start. That’s why I play football. But I’ll contribute in whatever way I can. The end goal is to win games, not whether you start or the minutes you play.”
Ranked ninth by the CFL Scouting Bureau, his selection second overall makes him the highest-pick ever of a Richmond athlete. Just-retired B.C. Lions centre Angus Reid was selected fourth overall by Toronto Argonauts in the 2001 draft.
Goossen’s versatility likely helped to raise his stock. He played every position on the offensive line at SFU, including centre, where he’s expected to slot in for the Bombers.
“I think it’s bad as a lineman to play only one position and it helps if there’s an injury (to be flexible),” he said.
Some pundits have suggested Goossen may need to adjust to playing Canadian rules, after playing American rules at SFU for the last four seasons. But he’s confident in his abilities.
“I think I can pick things up pretty easily, and while it’s definitely a big change I’ll make sure I work hard to make a smooth transition,” he said. “While it means developing new techniques to accommodate the yard difference, the job is still about blocking the guy in front of you. It’s more schematic than anything physical.”
While his size is obviously a blessing, one of Goossen’s greatest attributes as a football player is his smarts. Set to graduate with a degree in communications, he is an ardent student of the game who quickly translates what he learns into action. One of five members of the Clan to be chosen in Tuesday’s draft, he was the Clan’s captain in his final two seasons at SFU and a three-time all-star in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference including his senior season in 2013.
“Like any kid, I hoped to go to a Division One school in the U.S. when I graduated from high school (at Vancouver College),” he said. “But I ended up at SFU and it proved to be a great decision for me. And the biggest thing of all, it’s where I met my fiancé.”
Growing up, Goossen was a big fan of former Chicago Bears’ great Brian Urlacher and actually dreamed of being a linebacker. But fate had other ideas, and before too long he found his way onto the offensive line from where he’s carved out a promising career in pro football. He says a pair of other Richmond CFLers, and fellow Vancouver College grads—Angus Reid and Shea Emry—were unfailingly supportive during his high school years.
“They were very encouraging and big inspirations for me, and their success made the dream of playing pro not seem so unattainable,” he said. “They were good role models.”
Goossen has also learned a lot watching the likes of Seattle Seahawks’ centre Max Unger, appreciating his aggressiveness and determination to finish blocks.
“I try to be tenacious on every single play,” he concluded.