'Danny's a leader'

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

The mere notion is enough to raise the ire of Jim Barker.

For a guy intent on raising the Argos from the depths of mediocrity, Barker has no time to discuss the perceived motives behind Monday's signing of Canadian quarterback Danny Brannagan at a time when the topic of Canadian quarterbacks is very much in vogue.

"This isn't a P.R. move because I don't do that stuff,'' Barker said. "I couldn't care less of Danny's citizenship. It's an insult to him and to me.

"The only reason he's being signed is that we believe Danny has an opportunity to help the Argonauts."

Barker has watched Brannagan on tape, noting how the Queen's product oozes leadership, can run a pro-style offence and can make all the throws necessary to succeed in football.

Barker and his staff got an up-close look at Brannagan at the weekend-long evaluation camp in Toronto and came away impressed.

"I've watched Danny progress,'' Barker said. "This is a young man who has knowledge in Canadian football.

"I watched this young man take Queen's to a Vanier Cup and it's not an easy thing to do."

Barker can time Brannagan's release and measure his arm strength and foot speed, but it was the intangibles the Burlington native possessed that convinced the Argos to sign him.

"Danny's a leader,'' praised Barker. "We got a chance to interview Danny over the weekend and got to know the person he is, realized all the intangibles he brings to the table."

Barker promises to have no pretenses when the Argos gather later in the spring for training camp.

The one-time armless Argos now have three pivots under contract, with Brannagan joining Dalton Bell and Gibran Hamdan.

Barker hopes to add a fourth arm and perhaps have as many as five as the make- over of the team continues.

Hamdan comes to Canada with no three-down experience after basically carrying around a clipboard in Buffalo, while Bell was deep on Saskatchewan's depth chart.

Brannagan played under Pat Sheahan at Queen's. Barker is a fan of Sheahan's system, which is considered a pro-style offence because of the many reads and throws quarterbacks are asked to make.

Mobility may be an issue with Brannagan, but he's knowledgeable and has been successful at the collegiate level.

"I wouldn't have signed him if I didn't feel he had an opportunity to play,'' Barker said. "I believe Danny has a chance."

When Brannagan left Queen's, he left as the program's career-leader in passing, surpassing former Argo Tommy Denison.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity,'' the six-foot, 198-pound Brannagan said.

"I'm fortunate to have had a successful university career and realize that not a lot of people get to compete at the next level.

"The Argos have a great and storied football program that I've followed growing up. I was lucky to meet several members of the coaching staff at the CFL evaluation camp and I was very impressed with them. I look forward to going out there and competing for a spot on the team."


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