He still has another year of high school football to put under his belt and 17-year-old Joe McQuay plans to make the best of it before heading to university.
“I just want to get better, faster and stronger,” said the 6’ 5”, 265 lb. offensive lineman for the Notre Dame Cougars.
He was looking at the University of Calgary to start with but this past spring Chris Morris, head coach at the University of Alberta made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I liked the brand new start Chris is bringing to the table,” he said.
He was also enticed by the depth of experience between what the head coach and offensive line coach Tim Prinsen bring to the field as both have years of CIS and CFL playing time to share with their young players.
McQuay has his own suitcase full of experience as well, starting with three years in the Red Deer peewee system, followed by two years with the Bantam Cougars and the last two at the high school level.
But it doesn’t end there as he played two years with the Prairies Midget Fire during the spring season and then this summer he was on the Team Alberta U-18 team.
“That was a great experience,” he said about getting a chance to learn more skills at a higher level and a faster pace.
But his peewee days are where the learning really started.
“We were the first year of peewee football and the first season was pretty rough but everyone was really having fun and stuff,” he said. “Our second year was a little bit better and our third season we started coming together as a team which was good.”
Without the three years of football experience under his belt to start with McQuay was straightforward about what his current status might be if the program wasn’t there.
“Honestly no, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now,” he said. “Instead of starting football in Grade 8 I started in Grade 5 and learning things at a younger age and now I’m perfecting those things.”
The next step is CIS ball and McQuay is looking to get into the starting lineup right away.
“But if it doesn’t happen in the first year that’s ok,” he said. “Everything doesn’t have to happen quick but yeah, that’s my goal.”
As is the case with most football teams the big guys up front will always tell you they’re the smartest group on the field and while in some cases it might just be talk, McQuay is backing it up by focusing on an education degree when he arrives at the steps of the U of A.
He’s also not thinking too far ahead when it comes to football, stating he’s just wanting to play as long as he can and the professional level isn’t something which has even entered his mind.
As for the game itself, McQuay has a somewhat philosophical view of the sport.
“I see it as a great builder to life and just how like everything connects with it,” he said. “How it’s not just a game played on the field but the people you meet through it, the coaches, the players, the scouts, everything through it, it’s just amazing.”