Argos' QB Dorsey a coach in waiting

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

TORONTO - Ken Dorsey stands perhaps 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage with his helmet clasped in both hands behind his back as Cleo Lemon and Dalton Bell share snaps.

Occasionally he peeks at the play list strapped to his arm, maybe sneaks a glance at his two-year-old scampering around the sideline puddles.

Ken Dorsey has become a professional onlooker.

For most of the Toronto Argonauts' practice it is about as close to playing football that the club's No. 3 quarterback gets these days.

"I love playing. I love being out there and passing and running the offence, but sometimes you have to make a decision that's best for the family," says Dorsey, allowing that his seventh pro season is a watershed moment.

He hasn't played a down all season. He came to Toronto clinging to the dream that made him a Heisman candidate and national champion at the University of Miami.

Didn't happen.

Instead, he has learned to dream a new dream.

Dorsey, who turns 30 next April, has begun putting together his own playbook as he moves from life as a quarterback to a career as a football coach.

"I wouldn't have said that at the beginning of the year. But the way things turned out I just feel like if I'm not playing in the long term, that getting a start on my coaching career makes the most sense for me and my family."

The family includes, Tyler, 2, his wife and university sweetheart Jordan, and an infant daughter, Logan.

"They had to come up (from Florida) for the season. I miss them too much and they keep my sanity," says Dorsey, who has turned disappointment at failing to win the starter's job into opportunity.

He is eight years removed from the glory that made him a Miami legend and two-time NCAA quarterback of the year. There were stopovers with the 49ers, the Browns, and an autumn of unemployment before the Argos called last May.

"I wasn't playing so I helped out at Lakewood Ranch High school in Bradenton (as quarterback coach) and it kind of made me realize that coaching was the next career step for me," he says.

When the Argos brought him in as one of five quarterbacks, he thought he might revive his career. But Lemon won the No. 1 job and with Bell playing football paramedic, Dorsey spends more time in the film room than he does behind centre. He keeps coach's hours.

He shows up early according to team officials; leaves late. "I help the coaches with breakdown things; I'm drawing a few cards up for the scout team looks; interacting with coaches about a few game-plan things. It's a way of helping the coaches and the team, plus it's great preparation for a career in coaching."

Where that future takes him next season and beyond is uncertain. He still has many contacts from Miami, he's enjoying Toronto but "coaching is a lot like playing in that you often don't pick where you end up. The first step is getting your foot in a door ... it looks as difficult to break into this game as a coach as it is as a player."

As a young quarterback, it didn't help Dorsey's career to have eight offensive co-ordinators in seven seasons.

"Let's see, my rookie year was Gregg Knapp, second year was Ted Tollner, third Mike McCarthy and he left for Green Bay. Next year I started with Norv Turner and got traded and was with Maurice Carthon. He got fired and Jeff Davidson took over. The next year I had Rob Chudzinski and now coach (Jaime) Elizondo."

What hurt then, may help him now, in his football afterlife.

"It's given me a lot of contacts and I've got a lot of different offensive schemes in my head."

When he goes back to the U.S., he'll take along a few nuances from the Canadian game. Dorsey believed in a power-running team with play action.

"But that doesn't work here. So, it's been good for me because my offensive philosophies had to evolve from a two-back offence to a more spread offence. That's what I love about this experience. You can learn a lot from this style of football. It's really broadened my outlook. I'll take a lot away from here."

Meantime, he's already learned the first rule of a career coach: Find out where the light switches are because every morning and night the guy turning them on and off will be you.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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