Henry Burris has introduced himself to hundreds of practice-roster additions, guys he doesn’t know a thing about.
Adam DiMichele is a little different.
The Calgary Stampeders’ quarterbacking counterparts are both former Temple Owls, graduates of an NCAA program that’s not exactly known as a football factory.
“Once you’re an Owl, you’re always an Owl,” Burris said. “Temple Owls are basically everywhere. You run into some Temple Owls where you least expect, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect to see me up here.
“But the fact I’ve heard about him and he’s heard about me and the fact we finally got to meet is pretty special.”
DiMichele, 24, was signed to the Stampeders practice squad two days ago, brought to McMahon Stadium for a mid-season audition alongside Burris and backups Barrick Nealy and Drew Tate.
He’s hardly a household name in football circles, but Burris needs no introduction to the 6-foot-1, 220-lb. pivot. In fact, Smilin’ Hank has been raving about the up-and-coming quarterback for the past couple of years.
“That’s special, obviously, because I know a lot about Hank,” DiMichele said. “At our facility at Temple in Philly, we have pictures of him hanging. He had most of the records I was hoping to break, but I had a few injuries back in the day and I didn’t get to it.
“It’s special. It’s great to have to Temple quarterbacks in the same organization.”
When Burris graduated to the professional ranks in 1996, he departed as the Owls’ all-time career leader in passing yards (7,495), completions (558) and touchdowns passes (49).
Despite spending just three seasons at Temple after a brief baseball career, DiMichele racked up 5,024 passing yards and tossed 45 touchdown strikes.
He attended training camp with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, but he was released after Michael Vick signed a free-agent deal and Kevin Kolb recovered from an injury.
DiMichele is thrilled to be writing the next chapter in his gridiron career under the watchful eye of a former Owls great. Turns out, the feeling is mutual.
“Thankfully, we got him at Temple. He did a lot of good things there,” Burris said. “And we’re thankful to have him here. He’s a good quarterback, a good athlete, and the kid’s got a good upside to him.
“You’re always going to root for your guys — your home guys, your guys from your alma mater — and you want to see them do their best and have success in whatever it is. He has the intangibles and the ability to take the next step to this level, so whenever he has a question or anything he needs to know, he knows I’m definitely right there for him.”
The most famous graduate of the Owls football program is American comedian Bill Cosby, who suited up as a running back in 1961. As for the greatest quarterback to ever wear the logo, DiMichele figures Burris deserves that nod.
“He’s probably No. 1,” DiMichele said. “He’s got all the records and he’s doing his thing up here already. He got the ring last year and he’s first, I think, in passing up here right now.
Obviously, there’s a lot of people that look up him, and I feel honoured to be here and to learn from him.”
The Temple record book also points to Burris as the most prolific passer in school history, but Smilin’ Hank figures his new understudy is just tooting his horn.
“He’s only saying that because he’s sucking up,” Burris said.