TORONTO - A wet football field in a Toronto suburb isn’t where Danny Brannagan thought he would be in the first week of June.
When Brannagan led Queen’s University to the Vanier Cup championship in Quebec City last fall, he figured that was it for his football career.
After all, Brannagan knew that Canadian quarterbacks and the Canadian Football League had little recent history together.
Brannagan’s thought process changed entirely in March when the Argonauts signed him following the league’s annual evaluation camp.
“Truthfully, I don’t think I ever considered that this was something that could happen,” Brannagan told a large group of reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
“I have always wanted it to happen and wished it would. But after the Vanier Cup I had come to terms with the fact my football career was over, so this is something that was a great opportunity for me.”
The odds of Brannagan cracking the Argos roster are long, though the club could keep him on the practice roster and not use a roster spot. For now, head coach Jim Barker is stressing to Brannagan that he’s in camp for a reason, not a lark.
“There were some things I challenged him on in terms of his leadership and acting like he belongs here,” Barker said.
“I thought he accounted himself very well. He made one poor decision (on Wednesday) and other than that he did well.”
Does Brannagan like his chance of sticking?
Give the kid some credit for not simply saying that he was just happy to be in camp.
“Just because (a Canadian quarterback in the CFL) is something that hasn’t happened recently doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Brannagan said.
“With a new coaching staff and all new quarterbacks, this is kind of the ideal situation for anyone, whether they would be Canadian or not, to come into.”
About all that separated Brannagan noticeably from the other four quarterbacks in camp was his stature. He is listed as six-feet tall (a measurement that must have been taken with a broken yard stick), putting him at least two inches shorter than any of the other quarterback hopefuls.
Brannagan was mad at himself for a pass incompletion that came when he held on to the ball too long and forced a throw, and acknowledged the speed of the players around him took some adjustment.
“In previous years, you would look at linebackers as just run-stoppers and they can’t make plays in the passing game, but (at the pro level), that is not the case,” Brannagan, a Burlington native, said. “The overall speed is something that impressed me.”
As much as Brannagan will look to Cleo Lemon, Gibran Hamdan, Ken Dorsey and Dalton Bell for advice, they will seek it from him too.
Brannagan has the most experience on a Canadian field.
“There are some defensive schemes and offensive schemes that are new to them, so the information sharing goes both ways,” Brannagan said.
Said Lemon: “One of the first questions I had for Danny was, ‘How do you throw that wide-side comeback? What kind of trajectory do you put on the ball? What kind of timing do you have?’
“He has been really helpful.”