Toronto Argonauts

 

 

 

 

 Andre Talbot - Receiver -2001-09 - Wilfrid Laurier University

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Argonauts.ca - 03-04-2011

Growing up, Andre Talbot was determined to be a professional football player. He had the pedigree, his uncles both played college football, and he was athletic, spending every minute he could with friends or family throwing around the ball at local parks. Maybe he was focused, or just naive, for whatever reason the undersized kid from southern Ontario didn’t know better. He wasn’t supposed to be good enough to hit a professional defensive back in the mouth then snare a first down thrown by a CFL legend in front of that same DB - he did it anyway. Sure, Talbot could run, but he wasn’t football fast. He was tough, but he wasn’t mean. He was a jock and also an artist and a musician. He wasn’t supposed to, but he did it all. He was, and still is, contrarian in football and in life.

Talbot was born in Toronto but spent the first several years of his life in southwestern Ontario. It was in the small farming community of Woodstock that he learned how to remain grounded and honest. He would chuck the pigskin with his uncles, who starred for CIS programmes at Wilfrid Laurier and Carlton, and continue to learn the game even after the family uprooted and moved to the blue collar, industrious city of Oshawa, Ontario.
 

His game appeared to emulate the best from both places; true grit combined with good, honest hard work. It’s no wonder that longtime Argos head coach, Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons maintains that Talbot was the only player he pulled aside and told to work less. “I had to pull him back so that he could go forward,” said Clemons.

He played his first football game as a fresh-faced rookie at Paul Dwyer High School in Oshawa’s west-end. In the parks between practices, his uncles taught him how to throw, catch and run routes. Talbot became Paul Dwyer’s star quarterback and he developed the leadership skills that helped mould his CFL career. He was later named an Argos team captain.

Talbot decimated opponents in high school and then followed his uncle’s footsteps by joining the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. He converted from quarterback to receiver and others caught the first glimpse of his exceptional hands. He was a two-time All-Canadian and team MVP, and in spite of his size he caught the attention of CFL scouts. Argonauts’ scout Nick Volpe saw in Andre a sure-handed player who understood the game.

“I spent a lot of time watching him,” said Volpe. “The first time I saw him play at Laurier he returned punts and caught 13 passes in the same game. That’s when I knew we needed a guy like him.” Those same hands went on to catch 288 CFL passes, write poetry and even play music.

Nick Volpe called Talbot’s name in the fifth round of the 2001 CFL Canadian Draft. He worked his way onto the roster but nearly quit football during his second season. Injuries were getting the best of him and eventually the club released him to let him rehabilitate. He was discouraged and ready to move into the business world. Volpe sought out Talbot and told him, “Andre, you’ve worked so hard and come so far, why don’t you give it a few more weeks?”

Talbot conceded and those values from his upbringing kicked in. A receiver was injured and Talbot was ready. Volpe even helped him negotiate a pay raise. “Well worth the money,” Volpe remembered. Talbot altered his off-season training regiment, which resulted in fewer injuries, and he grew into the equivalent of a CFL goldmine – a starting Canadian in a specialist’s position on offence.

At times, the Argos locker room was among the most diverse in the CFL. Talbot had no trouble fitting in. He was Andre the teammate, Andre the musician and Andre the artist. His hustle won over his comrades on the field, his well-rounded character made things easy for him in the locker room. Though he had little in common with the likes of Michael Fletcher from Compton or Robert Baker from Gainesville, they became friends.

Talbot could slide seamlessly from practice then back downtown in enough time to host an art gallery for a buddy. He invited teammates to see his band play at small venues around Toronto or he could be found shopping in boutique stores around the city seeking out the latest fashions. He was the kind of player that could bring the room together because he knew everyone and everyone knew, and felt comfortable with, him - no matter where they were from.

Clemons said about Talbot, “Andre was a champion and not just in title (2004 Grey Cup) but in deed. As a local kid his story is inspirational, he had brilliant talent, a stellar work ethic and an even bigger heart. I want to make it clear that his success was no mistake.”

His website explains that it takes more than strength and ability to go from high school prospect to collegiate star and Grey Cup champion. True success demands dedication in the face of distraction and defeat. To watch him practice was to see life imitate the poetry of those words.

Talbot’s upbringing and diverse interests serve to both explain and confuse matters. It's fitting that his final quote read, "After 10 great years, I am now energized and inspired to go in a new direction." In looking back, it seems that it was different paths that formed him and the best of all of it that made him who he was and who we’ll miss.

Notes: Talbot retires with 288 career receptions for 3,703 yards and 18 touchdowns over 126 games. His best season was 2008, when he set career highs in receiving yards (915) and receptions (76) and was the Argos' nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian.
 

-- statistics --

 

 

Andre Talbot   Wilfrid Laurier
  Receiving      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
2001 Tor 0 0 0.0 0 0
2002 Tor 25 257 10.3 33 0
2003 Tor 0 0 0.0 0 0
2004 Tor 34 464 13.6 44 3
2005 Tor 48 679 14.1 39 2
2006 Tor 24 280 11.7 66 2
2007 Tor 53 803 15.2 70 6
2008 Tor 76 915 12.0 37 4
2009 Tor 1 4 4.0 4 0
2010 Edm 27 301 11.1 40 1
Total 10 288 3,703 12.9 66 18

 

 

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