McGill adds size, athleticism

McGill adds two local commits to their Class of 2018.

Despite everything the school offers, for defensive back Antoine Epstein and offensive lineman Maxime Bernatchez from Collège André-Grasset, McGill offers one thing in particular, a future.

Antoine Epstein

Antoine Epstein may not have a size advantage, but his small stature never deterred the 5’9, 175lbs cornerback. In cégep, he said he was 37lbs smaller than the average player on the team.

“Obviously, it’s normal for a defensive back to be a smaller body because the linemen are massive, but I’ve always been a particularly small player. I tend to think that I overcome this disadvantage with my athleticism,” Epstein said.

An astute learner, Epstein spent his elementary school days playing chess rather than grinding it out on the gridiron. He won awards in chess at the provincial level. “I feel there is definitely a link to make with football. I like strategic games and feel like patience is important to master,” he said. “I’ve also worked very hard to understand (football) tactics better and faster in order to use this knowledge to my advantage on the field.”

While Epstein said he works hard for the feeling of satisfaction that comes from winning, he also enjoys learning from his mistakes. “(I also like) being able to react spontaneously to different situations that are not always in my control,” he added. “In chess, however, mistakes are mental, whereas mistakes in football can be physical as well.”

Originally from Montréal, Québec, Epstein already has deep roots with McGill. His parents studied there while his brother is currently at the school. He said, however, that this didn’t influence his decision.

“I knew if I wanted to continue playing football, McGill was my best option because they were the team that had the most interest in me, so I guess it gives me a certain advantage over going to a school where people haven’t heard of me or didn’t seem interested in me,” Epstein said.

“For as what I’ve seen so far, the coaching staff looks really friendly, well organized and methodical in their approach to transmitting their knowledge and passion for the game,” he added. “However, I am a bit preoccupied by the fact two coaches left the team during this offseason. I guess we’ll see how we will adapt to that.”

Interested in taking finance, Epstein was weighing his business school options before choosing McGill. He said he was looking into the programs at the University of Montréal, Concordia and Queen’s as well. While Queen’s was recruiting him, he said the cost of leaving the province and pursing an undergrad degree at the school was a turn off.

“Desautels (Faculty of Management) has a great reputation and I feel like it’ll bring me closer to where I see myself in terms of a career,” he said.

Epstein has only been playing for five years. He played two seasons in high school with Les Cactus du Collège Notre-Dame and three with Les Phénix du Collège André-Grasset (RSEQ Division 1). In 2013, he won a Bol d’Or with Les Cactus.

Maxime Bernatchez

Standing at 6’8, 340lbs, Maxime Bernatchez is hard to miss. When he joins the team, he will further learn how to use his size to his advantage.

“I liked both the academic and athletic opportunity, but mostly I felt that it was the right place for me to develop myself as a football player (and) to achieve my potential,” the prospected chemical engineering student said.

“I feel that I am in good hands (with the coaches) because they know what they’re doing,” Bernatchez added. “They’re experienced, and they share with me the vision I have for the team and for the kind of player I want to become.”

In his nine-year career, Bernatchez spent two seasons with Les Loups de l’École secondaire Curé-Antoine-Labelle and three with Les Phénix. In 2014, he won a RSEQ Division 1 Bol d’Or with Les Loups.

While being new can be a bit daunting, Bernatchez doesn’t feel out of place. “I think there is a great team spirit because even if I’m very new, I had no trouble getting advice from teammates concerning the courses,” he said.

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