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McMaster University Marauders' Kyle Quinlan is just one of many Canadian University prospects who hopes to crack a CFL lineup. FILE PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward (Jonathan Hayward/CP)
McMaster University Marauders' Kyle Quinlan is just one of many Canadian University prospects who hopes to crack a CFL lineup. FILE PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

Alouettes embrace Canadian experience Add to ...

The Montreal Alouettes won’t guarantee how many reps their two newly-signed Canadian quarterbacks will get at training camp – but they are offering a chance to learn from veteran Anthony Calvillo and head coach Marc Trestman, a quarterbacking guru.

The Alouettes this week signed free agents Kyle Graves (Acadia University) and Kyle Quinlan (MVP of the 2011 Vanier Cup for McMaster), dedicating to the enterprise of developing Canadian talent.

Quinlan of South Woodslee, Ont., and Graves of Barrie, Ont., are long shots to make the roster, but the team vows to give them important experience.

“They’re winners and great athletes, and they both deserve an opportunity,” Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said. “In conjunction with the CFL, we’ve made it an initiative to help develop non-import talent.”

Calvillo and Adrian McPherson are deep-rooted as Montreal’s starter and backup, respectively, leaving Graves and Quinlan to compete with two imports (Ricky Santos and Josh Neiswander) for the third spot.

Both Canadians participated in the CFL evaluation camp but were bypassed in last week’s draft. They are eligible to return to university this fall.

“We thought a lot of these two – their size and arm strength, their high-percentage throwing,” Popp said. “How many reps they get in camp is a whole other story – we’ll find that out. It’s an education process. We’ll spend quality time with them before and after practice. We’ll do everything we can to help in the developmental process.”

It’s been nearly 16 years since a homegrown quarterback started a CFL game (Giulio Caravatta, for the B.C. Lions on Oct. 27, 1996).

In 2011, Brad Sinopoli made the Calgary Stampeders as the third pivot and remains on the roster. Marc Mueller signed with the Edmonton Eskimos last year, but was cut in the preseason. Danny Brannagan made the Toronto Argonauts’ 2010 roster before being released in 2011.

Quinlan had one of the more-memorable performances for a CIS quarterback in recent history, as he led McMaster to its first Vanier Cup win. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder threw for 482 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 106 yards in the 2011 title game.

At 6 foot 3 and 220 pounds, Graves was named top quarterback and top punter of the Atlantic Conference, leading it in passing yards (1,856), passing touchdowns (17) and punting average (36.7 yards).

“They’ll learn that quarterback is the most dynamic, complex position to play, and they’ll get a sense of it by keeping their eyes focused on Anthony,” Trestman said. “Their days will be filled with information.”

Popp believes if there were more rounds added to the CFL college draft (there are currently six), perhaps more non-import players would get into camps and be developed.

The Als GM said, at this time, his team intends to have Graves and Quinlan stay focused on being a quarterback, and has not discussed having them work out at any other position during training camp.

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