Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson was impressed with Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor during training camp.
O’Connor signed a one-year contract with the Stamps during free agency in February. He beat out Dakota Prukop to earn a roster spot following the final cuts made by Calgary.
“Very excited, very grateful. Dakota’s a great guy and that was tough to hear, but it’s part of the business and I wish him all the best,” O’Connor said.
“It was close. I just wish all of the three guys that were competing could’ve truly got on the field and shown me exactly who they are,” Dickenson said regarding making decisions without pre-season games in 2021.
After being selected in the third round, 20th overall in the 2019 CFL Draft, O’Connor spent the first season of his career in Toronto prior to coming to Calgary. He’s been learning from Dickenson and franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
“I really was happy with the progression I saw from Michael,” Dickenson said.
“I think I constantly got better, I took the coaching and tried to apply it out on the field,” O’Connor said.
The 25-year-old was taking command of the huddle during camp and being more vocal with the players around him. O’Connor wanted to show the coaching and football operations staff in Cowtown he can be a leader, prepare, and compete at a high level if his number is called.
“Very excited to be a part of the team, be a part of the program, do what I can to help the team win games. Very appreciative, very grateful and ready to get this thing going,” O’Connor said.
Dickenson has not yet named the backup to Mitchell. He wants O’Connor and CFL rookie Jake Maier, who the bench boss noted has “exceeded expectations,” to continue competing in practice for the job behind the two-time Grey Cup champion and two-time league MOP.
“Right now we’re going to keep that backup battle going and see what happens. There are some advantages with Michael that he’s played, I want to make sure that everyone is competing and working,” Dickenson said.
O’Connor played in two games for the Argonauts during his rookie season in 2019. He made the most of his limited action, completing 15-of-25 pass attempts for 173 yards with one touchdown, and zero interceptions.
“We’ll let them both practice. We will look at what we can do in our short yardage package, who can help us the most there. And figure out who we think fits the game plan the best and go from there,” Dickenson said.
The six-foot-four, 228-pound O’Connor originally committed to Penn State University before transferring to the University of British Columbia to finish his collegiate career. He led the Thunderbirds to a Vanier Cup championship in 2015.
O’Connor should keep developing by being around Dickenson and Mitchell in Calgary.