‘It’s not easy’ but B.C. Lions Canadian QB Nathan Rourke learning to ‘adjust’ to hype created from hot start

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke has adjusted well to being the B.C. Lions’ starting quarterback but he’s working through dealing with national praise created by his on-field performance.

“It’s not easy, you guys are constantly reminding me and telling me how great I am — that’s difficult sometimes. When the reality is that this is a great team and the team deserves all the respect and all the hype,” Rourke said. “Hopefully we can start saying: ‘Hey, the B.C. Lions are up to something, it’s not just their quarterback.'”

Rourke has led the Lions to a 3-0 record while leading the CFL in passing yards per game (359), touchdown passes (9) and efficiency rating (135.3). The 24-year-old dual-threat QB has rushed 15 times for 180 yards (averaging 12 yards per carry) and scored a league-high-tying three majors on the ground. It’s the best start to a season head coach Rick Campbell has seen from a quarterback in his 20-plus year coaching career in Canada.

“He’s been around, so that’s cool, but you can’t win the Grey Cup in the first three weeks,” Rourke said. “It means a lot from coach Campbell, but this is a long season, the most consistent team is the one that wins the Grey Cup and that’s what we’ve got our minds set on.”

“I mean especially the stats, but I’m not surprised at how he competes and does his thing,” Campbell said. “The cool thing is he believes we’re going to win, find a way to get it done and our players believe that too.”

During the first two games of the Lions’ schedule, Rourke threw seven touchdowns without being intercepted as B.C. posted two 40-point blowout wins. During Week 4 in the nation’s capital, Money Hunter picked off the six-foot-two, 209-pound passer on back-to-back possessions. Those turnovers led directly to two Redblacks touchdowns as Ottawa took the lead.

“I’m human and I make mistakes, but I’ve got a phenomenal team around me,” Rourke said. “I’ve been telling you guys the last three weeks that it’s not just me and you didn’t believe me. This is a really good team and I just happen to play on it.”

Following the two interceptions, Rourke stayed in the pocket long enough while taking a shot from the free defender on the play and delivered a strike to Keon Hatcher for a 71-yard touchdown. That gave the Lions the lead for keeps as B.C. won 34-31 with Rourke overcoming adversity while adding to his quick rise to stardom, but the Canadian signal caller clearly stated the hype is “not something that fuels me at all.”

“I’d rather not even deal with it if it was up to me, but it’s just part of it. That’s just something that I’m going to have to adjust to as a young guy in the league and professional sports,” Rourke said.

“That’s just going to be a part of something that I’m going to have to get better at in terms of understanding. But you know what? When you’re on a good team, these things are going to follow you, so it is what it is.”

Rourke has the Lions looking almost unbeatable while breaking records set by the great Russ Jackson. And the hype could reach yet another level if Rourke is able to guide the Leos to a win over the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Place in Week 5.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.