In the end, the Valley Huskers' Cody Parray was too good a quarterback to ever stick as a receiver.
Quarterback might be the most glamorous job on the football field, but Parray always wanted to be the guy tasked with catching footballs and sprinting into the end zone.
It didn't turn out that way though-not in community football with the Chilliwack Giants, nor with the Huskers.
As Parray tells it, he ended up quarterbacking a dozen Chilliwack Giants teams-including the 2009 provincial championship-winning midget squad-pretty much by default; after all, somebody had to take the snap.
But when he graduated to junior football, Parray finally got his chance to try his hand at receiver.
Parray did well enough, scoring a pair of touchdowns over his first two years with the Huskers. But he didn't see much of the ball for a good reason: when your quarterback is finding himself under constant pressure and assault, he doesn't exactly have a lot of time to pick out receivers downfield.
All that pressure also made it hard for the Huskers to recruit a new quarterback for their 2013 season.
Enter Parray. Eventually. Midway through training camp this year, with the Huskers' quarterback situation in flux, a frustrated, half-joking Parray floated the idea of trying his hand behind centre.
"Not yet," he was told. Soon the Huskers' brain trust reconsidered, at which point Parray actually had to wrap his mind around a return to quarterback.
"At first I wasn't really interested because I always wanted to play receiver," he said. "The first few days I wasn't really into it, but after that, I realized that I could have a bigger impact on the team."
Suddenly every play was starting with the ball in Parray's hands. And he wasn't quite sure whether he was ready for the leap.
"The speed of junior is lot faster and there's a lot less room for error compared to the younger leagues," he said. "I felt like it would take a few games to adapt to that."
It didn't. Instead, Parray showed his pedigree right away, completing 17 of 22 passes for 96 yards in the Huskers' first game against the Okanagan Sun.
"I feel like I've done a lot better than I first expected," Parray said. He also impressed his head coach, Tyson St. James, who praised Parray's leadership and said he was excited about his pivot's potential to lead the offence.
But while he may have spent two years catching balls, instead of throwing them, Parray said that experience has made him a better quarterback.
"I feel like [by playing receiver] I learned a lot more about how my receivers get open, for timing purposes," he said.
That receiving experience has also given him a new appreciation for the level of in-game control that playing quarterback provides.
"The best part about playing quarterback for me is the play starts with the ball in my hands," he said. "If it's a pass, I have the option to run, I have the option to make something happen, as opposed to when you're playing receiver, there's four or five other guys who could get the ball."
The one thing the five foot-ten Parray can't improve is his height. "I'm a short guy and most quarterbacks are big tall guys," he said. To overcome that, Parray leans on his game smarts and a knowledge of the playbook.
A lack of height is a disadvantage, the reasoning goes, if you've got to continually be searching for your receivers downfield. Knowing where they'll be ahead of time makes that job a lot easier.
"I feel like my knowledge is there, which gives me a bit of an edge," he said. "Coach [and Huskers offensive co-ordinator] Corey [Hamade] has got me prepared very well. I know my reads, I know where the ball has to go according to what the defence shows. I feel confident that way. The challenge is just making it happen."
After two years spent on Huskers teams that found it difficult, if not impossible, to score any points against BCFC opposition, Parray is confident that this year's squad will be able to find the end zone on a regular basis.
"I have a lot of faith in my teammates this year," he said. "If we just keep working I feel like we can do some positive things this year.
"I feel like there are some athletes on this team who can make me look good as well as I can make them look good," he said.
© Copyright 2013