Golden Gaels Photos
Queen's Golden Gaellery by Jeff Chan
CFL Evaluation Camp 20100314
All photos are by Jeff Chan. Jeff is past Chairman of the Vanier Cup - Canada's University Football Championship and the Premier University Event in Canada, and was a member of the Canadian College Bowl Board and Vanier Cup Organizing Committee from 1978-2000.
All photos are Copyright (c) Jeff Chan 2000-2010, but may be used for personal non-commercial use, and by Queen's University, the CIS and its member conferences, and by the CFL, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights are reserved.
Queen's participants at the CFL Evaluation Camp were Shomari Williams (Defensive Lineman & Linebacker), Chris Smith (Linebacker)and Danny Brannagan (Quarterback). The day after the E-Camp, Danny Brannagan was signed by the Toronto Argonauts:
Argos sign Canadian quarterback Brannagan - Queen’s product impresses coaches at evaluation camp
Mar 15 2010. By Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star
The Toronto Argonauts now have one of the rarest species in the Canadian Football League: a Canadian quarterback. The Argos signed Queen’s University quarterback Danny Brannagan on Monday, a day after he impressed coaches and scouts at the CFL’s annual evaluation camp for university players.
“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,” said the Burlington resident. That’s certainly true. No Canadian quarterback has started a CFL game since Larry Jusdanis did it with Hamilton in 1995 and few have even managed to make rosters since then.
Argo head coach Jim Barker said he was impressed with Brannagan’s athleticism, accuracy and his presence during the weekend camp. ``He can make all the throws and he understands the Canadian game and how to read defences,” Barker said. ``We are excited to watch Danny compete with the other quarterbacks we have signed. ``We would not have signed him if we didn’t think he could make our team.”
Brannagan is coming off a Vanier Cup victory and a season that saw him pass for 2,580 yard in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) play. He was named Vanier Cup MVP in throwing for 286 yards and three touchdowns. He finished his CIS career as the second all-time leading passer with 10,714 yards.
He will compete against Dalton Bell, acquired in a trade with the Saskatchewan Roughriders last month, and former Buffalo Bills back-up Gibran Hamdan. None of the three has thrown a pass during a CFL regular season game.
ARGOS SIGN CANADIAN QUARTERBACK BRANNAGAN
The quarterback position has been overwhelmingly the domain of import players in the CFL, but Canadian university star Danny Brannagan will try to buck the odds with the Toronto Argonauts.
The Argonauts announced the signing of the Queen's University star pivot through the 2012 season Monday. The team had examined Brannagan at the recent CFL evaluation camp for prospects.
"He can make all the throws and he understands the Canadian game and how to read defences," Argos coach Jim Barker said in a release. "We are excited to watch Danny compete with the other quarterbacks we have signed."
Brannagan engineered a comeback from 18 points down in the Vanier Cup in November, leading the Golden Gaels to a 33-31 victory in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship over the University of Calgary Dinos.
Brannagan threw for three touchdowns in 286 yards, earning the game's most valuable player honours.
The big victory capped off a five-year career in which the Burlington, Ont., native threw for just under 11,000 yards and was nominated for the Hec Crighton Trophy as Canada's top collegiate player.
At just six feet tall, Brannagan will have his challenges in the pros — aside from the fact no Canadian has consistently starred at quarterback in the league since Russ Jackson in the 1960s.
And the fact he was passed over in the CFL draft despite throwing 28 touchdowns in 2008 doesn't have Brannagan just "happy to be here." "I look forward to going out there and competing for a spot on the team," said the 23 year-old.
The Argos have completely overhauled the position in the offseason, jettisoning Kerry Joseph, Cody Pickett and Stephen Reaves after a 3-15 campaign. Last week Toronto obtained Saskatchewan reserve quarterback Dalton Bell for a draft pick and signed Gibran Hamdan, who spent much of two seasons with the Buffalo Bills as their No. 3 quarterback.
ARGOS SIGN VANIER CUP-WINNING QB BRANNAGAN
The stage appears set for the quarterback competition in Toronto Argonauts camp this spring.
The Argos have acquired their third quarterback in less than a week, signing non-import quarterback Danny Brannagan though the 2012 season on Monday.
Brannagan led the Queen's Gaels to their first Vanier Cup since 1992 last fall, and finished his CIS career as the university's all-time leading passer.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity," Brannagan said in a release. "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. ... I look forward to going out there and competing for a spot on the team.”
The 6-foot, 23-year-old pivot will battle for the team's starting job with former Buffalo Bills third string Gibran Hadman and Saskatchewan Roughriders practice roster QB Dalton Bell.
"Danny comes from the Pat Sheahan offensive system which is similar to what we do," Argos coach Jim Barker said. "Based on his success in this offence and his proven leadership, we used the opportunity presented at the CFL Evaluation Camp to see him in action to determine both on the field and in our interview if he possesses the specific skills we were looking for. We believe he does and he is a special individual who brings a lot to the table."
Full results from the Evaluation Camp are posted here: http://www.cfl.ca/page/ecamp-results
BRANNAGAN GETS QB LOOK - CFL INVITE CANADIAN LONGSHOT
Drew Edwards, The Hamilton Spectator
Vanier Cup winner Danny Brannagan is small by U.S. college standards, but he has a strong arm. And this weekend he gets a rare look by CFL coaches and GMs, as he tries to break a longstanding tradition of Canadian QBs in the CFL.
For Danny Brannagan, the door to a CFL career has opened just a sliver. It's not big enough to get a foot into - it's definitely not wide enough to throw a football through -- but it's a flash of light that, until very recently, wasn't there at all.
Brannagan, a former quarterback at Burlington's Assumption high school and national champion at Queen's University last season, will attend the CFL's evaluation camp this weekend -- an opportunity to strut his stuff in front of general managers, coaches and scouts from all eight teams. Not bad for a guy who thought his illustrious football career was well and truly over.
Despite throwing for 10,714 yards in his five years at Queen's -- not to mention winning that Vanier Cup -- Brannagan knows the pro game has been unkind to homegrown quarterbacks. While Jesse Palmer and Tom Denison had short stints with CFL clubs in the 2000s, a Canadian hasn't been a starter in the league since Russ Jackson -- and he retired in 1969.
"You've a lot of great quarterbacks, national champions and Hec Crighton winners, who didn't even get a look," Brannagan said this week from Kingston. "Historically, it's been tough."
There are several challenges facing Canadian pivots, says Ticat GM Bob O'Billovich. The pool of American quarterbacks coming from the ranks of college football is substantially larger than the Canadian equivalent -- there are 119 schools in the NCAA's top tier alone, compared to just 26 in the CIS.
"There haven't been guys coming out of the CIS who are good enough athletically or trained well enough to step in at the pro level and do a good job," Obie said.
"The gap is closing, but I still don't think it's to the point that a CIS prospect is going to be better than an American kid that's played more games at a higher level of competition."
Brannagan -- not surprisingly -- disputes this argument, citing the adjustment period most American players face when coming to the CFL. "A Canadian who's played three-down, 12-man football on a bigger field would have an advantage over Americans, who haven't been exposed to it," Brannagan said.
But the on-field challenges aren't the only barrier to players like Brannagan getting a legitimate shot at cracking a CFL roster. The league's rules regarding non-imports -- the number of Canadians each team must have on its roster -- doesn't include the quarterback position. In short, there's precious little incentive to give Canuck QBs a chance.
"The quarterbacks are better than when I coached in the CIS 10 years ago," said Ticat head coach Marcel Bellefeuille, who led the Ottawa Gee Gees to a national title in 2000. "But in order for there to be a legitimate opportunity, there would have to be a change in the rules to spend the time developing Canadian quarterbacks."
The league appears to be listening. In addition to inviting three Canadian quarterbacks to the evaluation camp -- Brannagan will be joined by Guelph's Justin Dunk and Calgary's Erik Glavic -- the CFL's director of football operations and development says there's a movement that allow teams to bring a Canadian pivot to training camp without that player occupying one of the coveted 75 roster spots.
"We've looked at different ways to get Canadian quarterbacks greater opportunity and exposure, including a chance to come to training camp," Kevin McDonald said yesterday. "I think it's going to happen." McDonald says the league sees the value in developing Canadians at the marquee position and is also discussing other, more permanent, roster solutions. "This weekend is a positive step and systemically we have to look at the bigger picture," he said.
For Brannagan, this weekend may simply represent an unexpected epilogue to his playing days. Knowing that a pro career was unlikely, he's well prepared for life without the game and is slated to start an accounting job with a Hamilton firm this fall. But the evaluation camp invite represents all he's ever wanted: a shot at the pros, regardless how slim. "I'm just trying to change one coach's mind," he said. "That's all it takes."
All photos on this site are Copyright © Jeff Chan, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications including by Queen's University, and U Sports Canada and its member conferences, other participating teams, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan.
All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved.