Jeff Miller/Bison Sports A nightmare for U-Sports offensive linemen and quarterbacks during a three year run at the University of Manitoba, Chilliwack’s Evan Foster (left in black/gold) now looks to the pro ranks as a newly drafted member of the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

Chilliwack’s Evan Foster drafted by CFL’s Toronto Argonauts

The University of Manitoba Bison grad takes his pass-rushing talent to the Canadian Football League.

Chilliwack’s Evan Foster is one big step closer to playing professionally after Sunday’s Canadian Football League draft.

The defensive lineman was the 19th player off the board as CFL teams snapped up Canadian talent. Going so high surprised Foster, who expected to go much later.

“It’s hard to ignore all those mock drafts that came out before,” the Chilliwack Minor Football alum said. “I saw my name in the sixth or seventh round and thought, ‘Man, I just hope I get drafted.’

“I had a good combine and thought I had some good years in Manitoba, but honestly you never know.”

Foster is undersized by pro standards at six feet and 230 pounds, and probably won’t be able to play with his hand in the dirt against the mammoth O-linemen that ply their trade in CFL trenches. That may have caused some teams to question how he’ll transition to the next level, but the thing Foster does really really well will always be in demand. He is a quarterback hunting machine who dropped U-Sports pivots 14 times during three years with the Bisons and still holds the single-season Canadian junior record for sacks in a season with 16 in 2013.

“I think you have to have natural ability for sure with the agility, and I think I was blessed with that,” he said. “I didn’t start playing football until I was 18 years old and the sports I played before that (hockey/lacrosse) really helped develop the side to side movements that translate so well to getting after quarterbacks.”

Foster was home in Chilliwack watching the draft on television with his dad when the phone rang. Argonauts general manager Jim Popp, architect of four Grey Cup championship teams, was on the line. “I talked to Jim the week before the draft and he told me my film was excellent, which is really cool to hear from a guy like that and made me think they might be the ones to take me,” Foster said. “On draft day, he called me right before the pick and said, ‘Just watch the TV because we’re going to get you here.”

He got off the phone and breathed a huge sigh of relief, happy to have the draft over and done with.

“Everyone told me to enjoy it, but I had a tough time because I was so nervous,” he admits. “But it was awesome seeing my name called.”

Foster will have at least two familiar faces in the Toronto locker room. He played with wide receiver Malcolm Williams with the B.C. Football Conference Langley Rams. Running back Anthony Coombs was a teammate at Manitoba.

The west-coast kid grew up watching the B.C. Lions and patterned himself after Leo legends Cameron Wake and Adam Bighill. But old allegiances are out the window now that he’s a member of Big Blue. He spent most of Monday morning on the phone with Argos coaches talking about how to put his best foot forward when he attends Toronto’s rookie camp in late-May.

“Getting drafted is just one part of the journey and now there’s a whole lot more work to be done to crack the roster,” Foster said.

He can’t wait to get started.

“The CFL’s been the dream since I was old enough to start playing football and fell in love with it,” Foster said. “As cliche as it sounds, playing a sport, doing what you love for money has always been a goal of mine.

“It’s exciting that I’m on the right track to do that.”

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