30 mai 2024

Dubois espère que la présence de vétérans et la flexibilité aideront le ROUGE ET NOIR à remporter des victoires.

For five seasons, Marco Dubois has been the ultimate team player for the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

The Laval product was the 13th overall pick in the 2018 CFL Draft, and, at the time, was touted as a player who could make an immediate impact on special teams. Despite never being a starter in university, Dubois was the second receiver off the board after only Mark Chapman, who never played in the league.

With the REDBLACKS, Dubois has become one of the premier special teams players in the league, sporadically playing on offence. In his now six seasons – seven years – in Ottawa, the Lasalle, Quebec native has come to accept and love his role, and become a true student of the game.

“It was the same for me in University, I was never the primary offensive guy,” Dubois said. “It was tougher at University, I didn’t know much about special teams, but now, I’ve had success with it. My role can always change. If we’re a better team with me playing on offence, I’ll do that, but if it’s better with me on special teams only, it doesn’t matter to me, I’ll be happy both ways.”

Just days away from his 30th birthday, Dubois has become one of the veteran presences for the REDBLACKS, working to fill the shoes of those departed, taking tips and tricks from many fan favourites along the way.

“I feel like I have gained a lot of experience through the reps that I’ve taken, and all the people I have met,” Dubois said. “Other guys like Brendan Gillanders, Nigel Romick, JP Bolduc, Antoine Pruneau, even Patrick Lavoie who I did offseason workouts with taught me a lot. I’ve learned how to treat my body, how to master special teams, and I’ve learned a new position in this league.”

Drafted as a wide receiver, Dubois has never quite fit the traditional moulds of a pass catcher in the league, but also doesn’t see a perfect fit as a fullback. His fluidity casts him into a role seldom used by CFL offences, making him the perfect candidate for the occasional gadget play.

That has led to just 18 receptions on 25 targets for his career, for a little under 250 yards.

“I’m more of a tight end, and you don’t see that a lot in this league,” Dubois said. “When you have the skill set to do it, it’s your job to force the Offensive Coordinator to put you in there. I think I’m able to do that through my blocking and my route running. Special teams will always be number one for me, but offence is a lot of fun, and every time my number has been called, I’ve answered.”

Last season, Dubois finally found the endzone for the first time in the regular season, taking a short pass from Tyrie Adams 54 yards to the house, breaking tackles and walking a tight rope down the sideline. Previously, he scored one additional major in the playoffs, in 2018.

The career first wasn’t so much a relief for the Canadian, but rather a confirmation of his fundamental beliefs.

“I have a lot of confidence in my abilities,” Dubois said. “If I get the ball in my hands, I think I can run with a lot of people in this league. I’ve shown that I can get the ball upfield, and I’ve been doing that in practice for a few years now. It’s just a matter of opportunity and timing.”

On the field, Dubois doesn’t yet know where his contributions will be required, but he does know that he must be a leader in the locker room if the REDBLACKS hope to turn over a new leaf in 2024.

“I think I’ve matured to that level, and I have the confidence of my coaches to do so,” Dubois said. “I can help the team in that way, show the younger guys how things are done, because I’ve been here for a fairly long time.”

Comparatively to a season ago, leadership is something Dubois points to as one of the biggest differences at REDBLACKS training camp.

“The leadership this year is way better,” Dubois said. “I’ll include myself in that, because last year, I lacked a bit of that. Guys like Dominique Rhymes and Adarius Pickett have come in, and he’s leading us during camp, and keeping us in check. We’ve talked about accountability a lot.”

Early in the year, the REDBLACKS youth set the tone with a 31-22 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to kick off the preseason, even if they won’t cash two points for the standings.

Having seen the highs and lows of the franchise, Dubois is eager to once again reach the level of success the Ottawa fan base expects.

“Every year has a story,” Dubois explained. “I don’t want to go back to 2018, I just want to go where we are supposed to go, where we want to go [in 2024], we’re going to write our own story. Every CFL season can go any way, and it all depends on us and the chemistry we build.”