EDMONTON - Zac Lesko isn’t just along for the ride.
With dreams of one day playing professional football, the Edmonton product has no interest in looking to switch from being a quarterback to something more suited to his Canadian birth certificate.
So while he is attending training camp with the Ottawa Gee-Gees this week, Lesko is determined to hone his craft in preparation to enter his rookie CIS season under program head coach Gary Etcheverry.
If anything, the fact that he is taking the road-less-travelled only pushes the 17-year-old that much harder.
“I wasn’t that fast or that good of an athlete, but I could throw,” said the six-foot-three, 180-pound native of Edmonton. “I think quarterbacks would be the — not the easiest way, but — highest percentage of chance to go anywhere.
“I’ve played safety just for like the last play of the game just to read the quarterback and stuff.”
But in his books, Lesko would much rather be the one being read. And the title would be: QB or Nothing.
“Just the position — being the one who can, like, win the game at the end,” said Lesko, who has been paying attention to what’s been going on with quarterbacks when it comes to the pros. “It’s getting better though, like the CFL with Canadian quarterbacks. They’re going out to camps more and more. Last year, there were a lot (in the draft),” he said. “And then Ottawa’s going to have a team in 2014, so I’ll be right there.”
Fully bilingual, Lesko attended Maurice Lavalle and played football with Austin O’Brien where he wasn’t the backup as much as he was brought in whenever the run-oriented Crusaders needed to reach a little deeper into their pocket with a passing play.
“I started some games, but I wasn’t the starting quarterback,” said Lesko, who split those snaps with current Edmonton Wildcats pivot Jesse Schneider. “I just played good enough for people to see me.”
Lesko helped his team to a Tier 2 provincial championship and put a video together for college recruiters.
“I didn’t even send the video to Ottawa, they just found me somehow,” said Lesko, who garnered interest from Simon Fraser University, University of Western Ontario, McGill, the University of Montreal, York and Regina, but was drawn to Ottawa for both its football and academics. “They called me when I was on a visit to Western and asked if we could come visit them.
“I just liked it when I got there. I liked the coaches, too.”
Etcheverry’s coaching resume includes teams in the NFL, CFL, Germany, CJFL, the CIS and NCAA. While he will be instructing Lesko on the gridiron, the student-athlete will also be put to the test in the classroom while pursuing mechanical engineering studies.
“My uncle and my grandpa are both in oil-rig sector companies, so I’d like to, too,” said Lesko, who also played hockey and snowboarded as a youngster, but first picked up a football at the pee-wee level as a 12-year-old. “Just from watching the Eskimos and stuff, I wanted to play.”
He soon discovered it was his calling.
“I was good (at it), better than any other sport I played,” said Lesko, who has been training at the Playmaker U Football Academy since graduating, in preparation for university. “I’m not nervous or anything. It’s the same thing, just a higher level.”