TORONTO, ON- Despite being dubbed the Canadian Football League, the league has long ignored signal callers coming from U SPORTS.
Many U SPORTS alumni make an impact after they leave school, whether that be the NFL or CFL. Guards like Super Bowl champion and McGill alum Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, former CFL draft first overall pick linebacker Henoc Muamba formerly of St. FX, and former New Orleans Saints draft pick David Onyemata who played for Manitoba.
14 players have been selected to the NFL out of U SPORTS programs, and hundreds have been drafted into the CFL. Since 2005, only seven US PORTS quarterbacks had their names called at the CFL Draft.
Out of those seven, some of them aren’t even known for being quarterbacks. Take Brad Sinopoli, drafted in 2011 out of the University of Ottawa, but he is most known for his contributions as a wide receiver. Most notably, a Grey Cup champion in 2016 and a former Most Outstanding Canadian Award winner. Marc-Olivier Brouillete went from starting quarterback in university to all-star linebacker in the CFL.
Where does Tre Ford come to play in all of this? The former Waterloo Warrior has taken the CFL by storm.
The Edmonton Elks have been one of the worst teams in the CFL in recent memory, but have been given hope via the maple leaf missile that is Tre Ford.
Before Ford took over the starting job under center, the Elks were 0-8. A disaster season, with turmoil surrounding the club. Since Ford, Edmonton has posted a 4-2 record. Now that the U SPORTS alum is their first-choice option, the offence has put up more than 20 in each of the games Ford has started. In their first eight games, they only managed that feat four times (50% of the non-Ford games).
The former U SPORTS most outstanding player has translated what made him so special in university into the CFL game. He has thrown for over 1,000 yards and has seven touchdowns. It’s not just through the air, but on the ground. Ford’s dual-threat ability is what makes him so special. He has rushed for 470 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Could Ford change the future for U SPORTS QBs?
So, what does this mean for the future of U SPORTS quarterbacks? Ford is the embodiment of the quality Canadian university signal callers can possess. Edmonton were hesitant putting Ford in and now look how they’ve played.
The CFL has consistently favoured quarterbacks from the United States or who have played in NCAA.
Perhaps, Ford has broken the barrier for future pivots who travel the same path. There are several quarterbacks right now in USPORTS that have the potential to play in the CFL.
Taylor Elgersma of Wilfrid Laurier is a prime example of someone who has that potential. He is currently among the elite in the country. He throws for over 300 yards per game and has recently tied a program record for most passing touchdowns in a single game (6).
Elgersma isn’t the only OUA quarterback thriving, Western’s Evan Hillock has been outstanding. Hillock leads the country in passing touchdowns (10). In the RSEQ, two quarterbacks are throwing for over 300 yards per game, Montreal Carabins’ Jonathan Senecal and Laval’s Arnaud Desjardins. Traveling to Canada West, UBC’s Garrett Rooker is also accomplishing the feat.
We very well might be witnessing the beginning of an era for USPORTS quarterbacks. Decades of going unappreciated, often opting to change positions in order to see the field. Maybe with Ford, CFL teams might realize that there is talent under center USPORTS.