After waiting patiently these last few months for a chance, any chance, to prove he can play at the professional level, former Coastal Carolina football star Quinn Backus finally got the call Tuesday night.
The standout linebacker was offered a tryout with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and was set to board a plane Wednesday evening with passport in hand and a bit of relief in his heart.
There were no guarantees offered by the CFL franchise and Backus will know by the weekend whether or not he’ll get a contract to remain in Montreal, but at the very least, he has an opportunity.
“It’s truly a blessing,” Backus said Wednesday before leaving town. “To see that phone call, it brought tears to my eyes. I felt a relief, but I still haven’t made it. I have to go out and perform and earn a contract. That’s hopefully what I’m doing.”
414 Backus’ career tackles at CCU, best in program history
After keying the Chanticleers to three of their best seasons all-time, Backus left Coastal Carolina as perhaps the most accomplished player in program history.
He was the first-ever three-time recipient of the Big South Defensive Player of the Year award, the first to lead the conference in tackles in three straight seasons and his 414 career tackles rank first in school history, second in league history and 14th all-time at the NCAA FCS level.
A consensus FCS All-American, he also finished fourth in the voting for the prestigious Buck Buchanan Award, which is given annually to the top defensive player in the FCS.
Despite all those accolades, though, pro teams have focused instead on his size – he was listed at 5-foot-10, 215 pounds as a senior – as being too small for the next level.
After not being selected in the NFL Draft, Backus had a brief tryout with the Houston Texans in early May before being sent home. And since then, he has waited and waited ... and waited for another call, another invite, another anything.
Speaking last week after receiving the Big South’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year award, Backus admitted he felt his window was closing and let on that while he continued to work out and stay in shape, his frustration was naturally mounting.
And then Alouettes assistant director of football operations and player personnel Joey Abrams called Tuesday night.
“[It] was just a typical day. I was getting ready to work out and run a few errands. Around 7 o’clock, I see the call from Canada,” Backus said. “... I just kind of froze for a minute. After that I was like, ‘Woo, I thank the Lord.’ I thank [my supporters] for allowing me to remain patient. That’s one thing that has allowed me to make it to now, my patience. I talked to other people, coaches, teammates, who said, ‘It’s not on your time; it’s on God’s time.’ It worked out pretty well.”
This is just the first step, though.
Backus said he was scheduled to take a physical Thursday, go through a light workout Friday and then a full workout in front of the Montreal coaches on Saturday, when he’ll learn his fate. The Alouettes are already four games into the CFL season, off to a 2-2 start, and don’t play again until Aug. 1.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Backus said. “It’s on me to go out and perform. I feel prepared. I just have to be coachable, don’t be so hard on myself, just show them what I’ve got and go from there.”