(Montreal) Montreal Alouettes receiver Austin Mack was unfamiliar with the CFL just a few months ago.

“I was watching an Alouettes highlights video, and I see guys running towards the line of scrimmage, then moving sideways on the line, and I’m just like, ‘what’s going on? It’s crazy,” Mack said of the rules of Canadian football, recalling the moment in April when he first knew the Alouettes were interested in him.

The Fort Wayne, Indiana native still leads the league after Week 6 in passing yards.

After signing a deal shortly before the start of training camp, Mack came in with an interesting run after playing for Ohio State University and experiencing the NFL. He still had to prove his worth to the coaches.

The 25-year-old rookie showed potential with his ability to learn quickly in camp and consistently making big plays in practices heading into the season.

When it started, he only needed a minute to demonstrate the kind of impact he can have in the CFL โ€“ he completed an aerial play for 61 yards on the second snap from center.

“We were like, ‘Look, this guy just might do it’ – and he’s been consistent ever since,” receivers coach Mike Lionello said.

With 30 passes caught for 458 yards and two touchdowns, Mack fills a big need for the Alouettes as a wide receiver. The Alouettes (2-3-0) lost Eugene Lewis โ€“ the East Division MVP last year โ€“ to the free agent market this offseason, while the names of Greg Ellingson, Tyson Philpot and Reggie White Jr. were on the injured list to start the campaign.

Taking advantage of that opening, Mack grabbed that second chance north of the border after injuries cut short his NFL career.

After four years with the Ohio State Buckeyes, he made a promising start with the New York Giants in 2020. He caught four passes for 72 yards in one game, including a 50-yard throw by quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants released him during the offseason, however, after he suffered a thigh injury.

He has since attempted a comeback to the NFL through the practice squads of the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. But each time he was released due to other injuries.

“That’s probably… the toughest two years of my life,” Mack conceded. It’s your livelihood, something you’ve done all your life. When you’re not even able to be on the pitch, it’s tough mentally. ยป

Mack has even considered retirement, ready to use his finance degree to start a new career outside of football. He also wanted to focus on his family, which also welcomed a new member in March.

His wife, Joye, however, encouraged him to try football one last time. Now, after years of trying to figure out his body, Mack believes he’s in top form and possibly playing the best football of his life. And that’s good for the Alouettes.