Nathan Rourke has instantly become one of Maple Ridge’s favourite athletes, with his rise to second on the depth chart at the pivot position with the B.C. Lions.
It was announced this week that Rourke, a rookie who hangs his helmet in Ridge, has won the backup quarterback job, as the Lions wrapped up training camp in Kamloops.
“Rourke has jumped off the page and done things as a first-year quarterback, and I don’t care where you’re from, that are just really excitable not only for this year and securing the number two spot, but for the future,” said Leos co-general manager Neil McEvoy, in an interview on the team’s website.
“I’m excited for him; as a guy who now lives in the Lower Mainland and who was born in Victoria. When was the last time you could say the BC Lions have a number two QB and potentially a guy who can start for us who is Canadian?”
Every CFL team must have at least 21 Canadians on game-day rosters, and at least seven must be starters. But to McEvoy, Rourke’s talent shines, Canadian content or not.
“Regardless of where he’s from, he’s just a really good football player,” he said. “As a quarterback, his energy is excitable and everyone just rallies around him. All of those things that you saw in college; he won football games and his players really loved him and played for him. You could see that on this team here. That’s tough to do as a first-year guy, especially when you have hall of famers like Michael Reilly, our number one quarterback.
“Nathan has done things that are just amazing. I’m so happy for him, happy for all of us.”
Head coach Rick Campbell said he was impressed with Rourke, and chose to keep him on the roster over more veteran players.
Rourke said he learned a lot in training camp by watching starter Mike Reilly and other veterans. His goal entering camp was to put himself into position to start a game this season, added that in 2019 starting quarterbacks did not play every game for their teams.
“So to put myself in that position, that if something were to happen, I would be the next guy up. Obviously I wish the best for this team and I think at this point we definitely want Mike to be The Guy and be healthy, and we’re a much better football team if he’s playing there,” he said.
“My goal right now is to work to the point where they feel just as comfortable with me in there. I’m taking that day by day, we’re still a long way off from that.”
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