Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke went viral in his NFL preseason debut with the Jaguars and caught the attention of one Patrick Mahomes.
During the fourth quarter of Jacksonville’s 28-23 win over Dallas, Rourke spun away from two defenders inside the pocket into the arms of six-foot-three, 252-pound Ben Banogu and let go a precise throw while being dragged down to the turf for a 21-yard touchdown to Qadree Ollison.
— Justin Dunk (@JDunk12) August 13, 2023
Mahomes tweeted about the play: “That was nasty!!!”
“It was pretty incredible. Toughness and poise in the pocket, being able to make a play like that. Have a couple of guys on him to make that throw for the touchdown — I haven’t seen too many plays like that, even in a preseason game,” Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson said.
“Nate did a nice job stepping in, making some plays and coming up big. Hats off to him, he did a nice job leading that group. Was able to put us in the end zone, then he had the touchdown run, too. He had a really good second half.”
The 25-year-old from Canada led two touchdown drives, completing 9-of-17 passes for 153 yards with one TD throw plus added six rushes for 20 yards and one TD. It was a productive and confident outing from Rourke on his first live NFL action.
“Nate had some unbelievable plays, so that was really cool to see him play well,” Jaguars’ franchise QB Trevor Lawrence said. “That’s what it takes in these preseason games, at the end of the game, you got a lot of different guys in there and you gotta have some plays like that. Nate played great, took care of the ball, won the game for us.”
Rourke signed with Jacksonville this offseason following an extensive NFL workout tour that included 12 teams. He is one of three quarterbacks on the team’s roster and expected to be the third-stringer behind Pro Bowler Lawrence and veteran backup C.J. Beathard, who completed 6-of-13 passes for 80 yards and scored one rushing touchdown.
The Victoria, B.C. native is coming off a sensational 2022 season in the CFL during which he completed 78.7 percent of his pass attempts for 3,349 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 10 games. He ran the football 39 times for 304 yards and seven scores while becoming the first quarterback to win the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award since 1980.
He went 8-1 as a starter before undergoing surgery last August to repair a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. Though the injury was originally thought to be season-ending, he was able to return for the final week of the regular season and play the first quarter of a meaningless contest against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
He started the West Semi-Final the following week and threw for 321 yards with two touchdowns in a 30-16 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. He and his team were eliminated from postseason contention against Winnipeg the following week after he threw for 300 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 28-20 loss in the West Final.
Rourke was a three-year starter at Ohio University from 2017-2019 where he threw for 7,457 yards with 60 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He recorded 425 carries for 2,634 yards and 49 scores along the ground but received a small amount of NFL interest coming out of the NCAA.
The six-foot-two, 209-pound passer was originally selected by the B.C. Lions with the 15th overall pick in the second round during the 2020 CFL Draft and spent the first year of his career backing up veteran Michael Reilly in 2021. He went unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft and earned just one NFL mini-camp invite from the New York Giants as a receiver the following year.
Rourke and the Jaguars will return to action on Saturday, August 19 when they take on the Detroit Lions. Jacksonville opens their regular season on Sunday, September 10 when the Jags visit the Indianapolis Colts.