Bills should give trick-shot QB Tanney a serious look


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

You could call this year’s rookie class of NFL quarterbacks special.

With the No. 1 pick went Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts, who think the Stanford prodigy could actually be better than Peyton Manning. Then Baylor’s Robert Griffin III went off the board to the Washington Redskins, leaving D.C. fans salivating about what he might be able to bring to our nation’s capital. After that it was Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, who were both selected in the first rounds by the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, respectively.

Yes, this was an outstanding class of QBs and I didn’t even mention the likes of Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles or Kirk Cousins. But despite what these youngsters may bring to the NFL, I’ll be following a lesser known gun slinger when team camps get underway.

This man didn’t play NCAA Division I football or even Division II. Nope, he made a name for himself on YouTube and Div. III Monmouth College. I’m of course talking about the internet sensation, the trick quarterback, Alex Tanney. And before you dive even further into this blog, you may want to check out the following video if you haven’t already:

Not many had Tanney on their radars as a possible NFL QB at the NFL Draft late last month. But that didn’t mean teams weren’t looking at the 23-year-old as an undrafted free agent. In fact, Tanney received an invitation to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie camp, which started May 4. However, Tanney declined their invitation and a handful of others to give it a go with the Buffalo Bills, a team desperate for a backup quarterback.

So what might we expect from this young man? Well, if you watched the YouTube video posted on this blog, I expect some serious accuracy. I mean can anyone name a player who can nail targets with ease and do so without even looking to where he is throwing? I’ve never seen anything like it. And if this kid gets a shot someday, he may just be the next Kurt Warner or Doug Flutie — to compare him with undrafted quarterbacks who found serious success in the NFL.

While it took Warner and Flutie a while to earn their way, Tanney does have the internet on his side and I’m sure it left some coach’s jaws on the ground. Now given, NFL teams aren’t cutting in line to sign a trick-shot quarterback, but one look at this kid’s numbers should indicate that he may just be the real deal.

He holds the NCAA Division III record for career passing yards with an astronomical 14,429 in four years at Monmouth College. The Normal. Ill., native also set an NCAA record (Div I – Div. III) for the most passing touchdowns with a more than stellar 157. All I can say to those statistics is wow. Then I have to ask myself, ‘why didn’t this guy get drafted?’

I soon answered my own question when I thought of another record holder, wide receiver David Kircus, who holds NCAA records for most career receiving touchdowns with 80 and most receiving touchdowns in a season with 35. What a talent right? Apparently, NFL teams didn’t think so about the Grand Valley State graduate. He was drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions in 2003 and then spent 2006 with the Denver Broncos before finally leaving the NFL. It’s safe to say, probably because of where Kircus went to school, that he really never got his shot and therefore, we will never know what could’ve been. However, I could be wrong because he was cut by a UFL team in 2010, but that’s beside the point.

Kircus’ story amazed me so much so that I literally followed him throughout his short-lived NFL career, which he only recorded 308 receiving yards with one touchdown. When he finally didn’t find a new team in an attempt to be more than a practice squad receiver, I can honestly say I was a little crushed. I mean who doesn’t like rooting for the underdog?

But then came along Alex Tanney, another lower-NCAA Division stud. I just hope the same things that happened to Kircus doesn’t find Tanney. I guess I’ll have to wait and see, but for now, I like his chances of not having to work at a Subway like Kircus did once while in between NFL stints. The Bills don’t have a lot of depth at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter and Tyler Thigpen (a former seventh-round draft selection) serving as the team’s backup. So why not give Tanney a shot? He probably won’t get on the field for a while and one would think he would be a quarterbacks coach’s dream to develop a Div. III player into an NFL star.

Tanney showed he was serious about making an NFL team by working with former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington at the Test Football Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., before the NFL Draft. Buffalo should take that into consideration. After all, probably not many Div. III athletes keep chasing their dream. But on the same token, they probably couldn’t hit any field-goal post from their knees, either.

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