Christmas came a little early for one local football standout trying to work his way into the National Football League — Aaron Karlen, an Edgar and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point football standout, was named this week to the Montreal Alouettes, a team in the Canadian Football League.

Aaron Karlen

B.C. Kowalski/City Pages

Aaron Karlen

Former UWSP football standout Aaron Karlen works out at Lift Athletics after earning a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes, a Canadian Football League team.

Karlen, who played football all four years at UWSP, participated in the Seattle Seahawks minicamp in May and played several games in Ottawa last fall before being cut. CFL rules require a certain number of players be Canadian; two Canadian players at his linebacker position became healthy, bumping him from the roster.

Karlen graduated from UWSP Saturday and got the news shortly thereafter that he would get a two-year contract with the Alouettes starting next season. He will be playing defensive end and is currently training at Lift Athletics to build muscle and size for the position. Karlen will report to Montreal’s mini-camp in April. In January, he will attend police academy training in Appleton to prepare for a post-football career.

Being named to the team in Montreal was a dream come true, Karlen says. His ultimate goal, though, is to earn a spot on an NFL team. “Every kid grows up dreaming of being a professional football player,” Karlen says. “[Getting signed by Montreal] is a dream come true but it’s also a step toward getting into the league.”

The Canadian Football League was founded in 1958 and many of its nine teams date back to before the official league’s official formation. The league’s season runs from June to early November, commencing with the Grey Cup, the equivalent of the NFL’s Super Bowl. Rules are similar, with some key differences: a 110-yard field versus a 100-yard field and only three downs to move the ball 10 yards, versus four in the NFL.

Want to follow Karlen’s progress? Canadian Football League’s games are broadcast on ESPN. Check for him when the season starts next June.