Bridge, of course, went through South Alabama en route to his selection in 2015. O’Connor, too, has benefited from exposure to the American game, as he played in Tennessee, Florida and one season at Penn State before joining the Thunderbirds. That's something he believes will serve him in good stead.
“I have a little different background than most Canadian quarterbacks,” pointed out O’Connor, who two weeks ago worked out for the B.C. Lions, Edmonton Eskimos and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks in Vancouver. “I think that’s an advantage for me. I’ve been exposed to that coaching and that play and I think it works for me.
“I think I’ve proved to the CFL coaches that they shouldn’t view me as a Canadian quarterback; they should view me as a quarterback, period. I think I’ve proved that over my four years at UBC." - Michael O'Connor.
“I think I’ve proved to the CFL coaches that they shouldn’t view me as a Canadian quarterback; they should view me as a quarterback, period. I think I’ve proved that over my four years at UBC. That’s nothing against the whole narrative of Canadian quarterbacks. I definitely want to grow the game in Canada and give hope to kids playing quarterback across the country.”
O’Connor will be eagerly watching the draft with his friends, roommates and teammates in Vancouver. His quarterbacking brethren will also be keeping their fingers crossed for him, as well as Western’s Chris Merchant, another home-grown signal-caller with the possibility of being chosen.
“I’m always rooting for someone with the Canadian flag, even if I don’t even know them,” said Bridge. “If they’re Canadian and they can play quarterback, they definitely have my support and me rooting for them and hoping for success in their football career.”
“It would be nice to see more of them get a chance to compete in camp,” added Buckley. “The more the CFL can embrace the Canadian aspect of the game, the better it will be and I think it starts at quarterback.
“I think it would be cool for O’Connor to get a legitimate shot. Fans go to the game to watch the Canadian talent. In my opinion, they’re not there to watch a second-class version of the NFL. They’re there to watch Canadian players play in a good Canadian game.”
FORMER REGINA RAM MARC MUELLER MADE THE JUMP TO THE CFL ON THE SIDELINES, AND IS CURRENTLY THE CALGARY STAMPEDERS RUNNING BACKS COACH.
Marc Mueller, who had a terrific U SPORTS career at the University of Regina, is now running backs coach with the Stampeders and is another big booster.
“I think this year is a great example, there are lots of guys out there who can play,” suggested Mueller. “Noah Picton was in camp with Toronto and is going back again. I was lucky enough to go to a camp. Brad Sinopoli originally made the CFL as a quarterback. A lot of guys have made the step. You watch U SPORTS and the football gets better every year and the quarterback position is no different.”