Brannagan, Faulds & Glavic compete for CFL

Trio of Canadian-born CIS quarterbacks looking to crack the Canadian Football League with invitations to evaluation camp

Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan started for five years at Queen’s, racking up over 10,000 CIS career passing yards.
Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan started for five years at Queen’s, racking up over 10,000 CIS career passing yards.
Photo: 
Danny Brannagan
Danny Brannagan
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Michael Faulds
Michael Faulds
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Erik Glavic. All three will face a tough test as Canadian-born quarterbacks to crack the CFL.
Erik Glavic. All three will face a tough test as Canadian-born quarterbacks to crack the CFL.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
Tom Denison was the last Queen’s quarterback to play CFL football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders, after being passed over by Toronto and Hamilton.
Tom Denison was the last Queen’s quarterback to play CFL football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders, after being passed over by Toronto and Hamilton.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Gaels’ quarterback Danny Brannagan is one of three Canadian university quarterbacks that will be present at this year’s CFL evaluation camp in Toronto.

Despite being the Vanier Cup MVP and the second most prolific passer in CIS history, Brannagan said the invitation to camp shocked him.

“Even in high school I realized that the Canadian quarterback is done their career at the end of university,” he said. “It’s something I never really seriously considered before getting this invitation.”

The fifth-year commerce student has a job secured at a Hamilton accounting firm after he graduates.

With only three quarterback positions available on CFL rosters, Canadian quarterbacks rarely sign a contract. The last Queen’s quarterback to be signed to the CFL was Tom Denison in 2003 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was later dropped from the roster.

“There’s no real demand,” Brannagan said.

On a 42-man CFL team roster, 50 per cent must be Canadian-born or trained.

Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan said the seemingly patriotic rule is prohibitive to Canadian quarterbacks. Teams looking to sign a Canadian rookie usually have to include him on the starting roster to fill the non-import quota.

“Currently the rules favour being an American,” he said. “If you carry an extra quarterback on your roster he doesn’t count as a roster spot, whereas if he’s a Canadian he does count. In essence you can dress an American quarterback that doesn’t count on your roster. ... It’s a pretty significant challenge for Canadian quarterbacks.”

Sheahan said that doesn’t mean Brannagan’s chances are slim.

“I have spoken to representatives from most of the clubs and Danny’s name always comes up,” he said. “He’ll just have to go out there and compete on his own merit and show them he’s got a pro arm.”

Brannagan’s draft year has passed, but the invitation will allow him a showcase. Sheahan said Brannagan earned it.

“When you’re the premier player in your position in CIS football it’s expected,” he said. “There will be those cynics that say that perhaps he doesn’t have a chance, but the first step is getting seen by the pros and there he is front and centre.”

Brannagan said he wants to use the opportunity to shatter some misconceptions.

“I think a lot of people have the perception of me that I’m not very athletic; that I’m just a pocket quarterback with a strong arm,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll go out there with strong agility and speed and change people’s perception of me.”

Brannagan will be joined at evaluations with some former interuniversity adversaries. Western Mustangs quarterback Michael Faulds claimed the all-time CIS passing title over Brannagan this year during the last game of the season. Quarterback Erik Glavic of the Vanier Cup runner-up Calgary Dinos has also been invited.

“We’re almost on the same side,” Brannagan said. “We just want to see a Canadian quarterback get into the CFL … It’s not about the individual competition, it’s about going out and showing the CFL coaches that Canadian quarterbacks can compete at the next level.”

Toronto Argonauts’ head of Canadian scouting Miles Gorrell said this year’s Canadian quarterback talent is atypical.

“Quarterbacks like Danny Brannagan only come through once in a while,” he said. “I think they’re good enough to play. Just like [former Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback] Russ Jackson, they have to be given the opportunity by a coach.”

Gorrell said there’s been an interest in reforming the league to give Canadians the same opportunities as their American quarterback counterparts.

“There’s been talk of changing that rule to give an equal opportunity to both Canadian and American quarterback,” he said. “It’s up to the powers that be to vote on it.”

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