CFL Pass

Dinos' star Sinagra hoping to earn shot at competing for CFL spot

Quarterback Adam Sinagra is a proud Canadian, but he wants to secure a CFL opportunity based upon his ability, not his nationality.

The six-foot-one, 195-pound Hec Crighton Trophy winner will return this fall to the University of Calgary. Another dominant campaign — Sinagra threw for a U Sports-record 3,233 yards last year — would definitely garner the native of Pointe Claire Que., much consideration in the 2020 CFL draft.

The Toronto Argonauts took U.B.C. quarterback Michael O’Connor, an Ottawa native, in the third round, 20th overall, in this year’s draft.

Sinagra’s draft stock could improve significantly if CFL teams are allowed to count home-grown quarterbacks as Canadians on their roster. Currently, franchises can have three passers of any nationality among their 44 players each game, including 21 Canucks at all other positions.

That change must be agreed upon jointly by the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association, who remain in talks on a new deal with the present agreement slated to expire May 18. But Sinagra isn’t looking for a free pass, he wants to prove he’s a quality quarterback who just happens to be Canadian.

“I’m a football player when it comes down to it and I want to compete whether Canadians are counted towards the ratio or not,” Sinagra said this week from Ottawa, where he’s preparing to play in the East-West Bowl.

“I just want to have the opportunity to compete for a job.”

Sinagra was at the Calgary Stampeders’ training camp last season and is scheduled to attend the Edmonton Eskimos’ camp this year. He said there’s plenty a young quarterback can learn from the pros.

“It’s great to see how the guys at the top level do it,” he said. “You also pick up the speed of the game, the mental part of the game and just enjoy the process.”

While Sinagra has much to learn about the pro game, he has no doubts that he can compete at that level.

“I think I’ve developed into a pretty solid quarterback,” he said. “I think I can make all the throws on the field.

“I had a great experience last year at Calgary’s camp. Seeing the other guys there I think I definitely can compete with them.”

Sinagra will have a tough act to follow this season. He guided Calgary to an 8-0 regular-season record and anchored an offence that averaged 44 points and 570.9 yards per game.

Sinagra certainly did his part, averaging a whopping 404.1 yards passing per game, completing 66.2 per cent of his passes with 23 TDs and just five interceptions. But the Dinos’ stellar season ended with a 43-18 loss to Saskatchewan in the conference final, as the Huskies had four interceptions.

Still, there’s plenty for the Dinos to be optimistic about this season. A youthful squad has another year of experience under its belt and the team’s offensive co-ordinator is Pat Sheahan, the longtime Queen’s head coach who replaced his son, Ryan (now the head coach at Guelph) as the architect of Calgary’s powerful offence.

And it should be a very seamless transition given Ryan Sheahan spent six seasons as Queen’s offensive co-ordinator/quarterback coach before heading to Calgary.

“We were pretty young last year so being a year older should help,” Sinagra said. “The offence is still the same, he (Sheahan) is really the architect of who made the offence so that’s great too.

“I think coach Pat has great knowledge of the game, he’s been around the game for a while and we should be excited to go up there and make a run for it.”

Despite his gaudy stats, Sinagra said he still has plenty to work on.

“I definitely want to get a little more size on me,” he said. “I always want to work on my feet . . . you can never do enough of especially at quarterback.

“You throw with your feet.”

There are plenty of eyes on Sinagra this week. Most CFL teams attend the East-West Bowl because it features many of the top prospects for the next year’s draft. But Sinagra said he can’t afford to concern himself with that thought.

“As a quarterback, you really must be tuned in,” he said. “There’s many moving parts so you can’t really be thinking about that (CFL scouts).

“If you are, you’re not going to do so well. All I’m focused on is running that play at that moment to the best of my ability.”

Sinagra is enjoying his East-West Bowl experience and has rather modest goals for the week.

“Just to get better, honestly,” he said. “Take in all the information and try to have some fun.

“It’s pretty cool having a chance to play with and get to know guys you’ve played against and see how they are 1-on-1. I’m going to try to put my best foot forward and show CFL coaches a little more of my game in live action rather than just on tape.”