December 13, 2019

Winnipeg
-20° C, Ice crystals

Full Forecast

University of South Dakota product has size, speed and smarts

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2018 (569 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He's a smart guy with two university degrees (currently working on a third) but sometimes Chris Streveler's football instincts take over and he does something reckless.

The 23-year-old quarterback, coming off two record-setting seasons with the University of South Dakota Coyotes, likes to put his head down and take on defenders when he improvises on a running play. A violent collision often ensues.

"Yeah, I guess that's always been my mindset," said a smiling Streveler after Day 4 of training camp Wednesday where he is one of four quarterbacks on Winnipeg's CFL pre-season roster. "There are certain situations for everything as a quarterback.

"If you're on the sidelines, it makes no sense to do anything other than step out of bounds if there's someone coming, but if necessary, and you need to pick up an extra yard, throw your hat in there like a running back would."

Coaches usually prefer their quarterbacks to avoid these collisions, but if you have Streveler on your roster, you'll probably have to live with the inherent danger.

"He's a very talented runner," said Coyotes head coach Bob Nielson via telephone. "He's very fast and physical. Some people in our league described him as a fullback or a linebacker playing quarterback. When he had the ball in his hands, that was certainly his mentality."

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Chris Streveler is 6-2, 220 pounds with a strong arm who recently clocked 4.45 seconds in the 40, a number usually associated with running backs and wide receivers.</p></p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Chris Streveler is 6-2, 220 pounds with a strong arm who recently clocked 4.45 seconds in the 40, a number usually associated with running backs and wide receivers.

Streveler certainly appears to have the physical tools to excel in the CFL. He's big (6-2, 220 pounds) with a strong arm and astonishing speed. At South Dakota's recent pro day he clocked a blistering 4.45 seconds in the 40, a number usually associated with running backs and wide receivers.

Spectators at Blue Bombers' training camp have been treated to a few occasions where he has left defenders grasping at air after he turned the corner on a running play.

Despite these obvious physical traits, Streveler almost never got the opportunity to play pro football. He was not heavily recruited out of high school and received only two NCAA Division 1 scholarship offers – accepting one from the University of Minnesota. 

His time with the Gophers was largely unproductive. After redshirting as a freshman, he rarely played quarterback over the next two seasons, but saw some action at running back and tight end before being converted into a receiver as a sophomore.

At that point, he needed a change of scenery, and after completing work on a bachelor of kinesiology degree following his third year, he was able to take advantage of the NCAA graduate transfer rule, which allows players who have completed an undergraduate degree to transfer and be immediately eligible to play.

He's very fast and physical. Some people in our league described him as a fullback or a linebacker playing quarterback. When he had the ball in his hands, that was certainly his mentality. — Coyotes head coach Bob Nielson

That's where South Dakota, located in tiny Vermillion, S.D., and a member of the NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision, came through with an opportunity to play quarterback right away. He settled into the starting job quickly, and by his senior season was expertly operating the Coyotes' high-tempo offence in which he threw for 4,134 yards in 13 games while running for a team-leading 720 yards.

"I think what really surprised us (is) he became a good player in his first year and was the newcomer of the year in our league, but his development from year one to year two was nothing short of amazing," said Nielson.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Chris Streveler has also suited up as a running back, tight end and receiver.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Chris Streveler has also suited up as a running back, tight end and receiver.

"He really studied the system. He became a guy who not only ran our offence, he became the guy who could direct our offence. A lot of of that is to his credit. He's a real student of the game and became a guy who was like another coach on the field."

Streveler considered the possibility of transferring for more than a year before finally pulling the trigger. Taking his academics so seriously paved the way to success on the field.

"I really thought about it," he said. "My dad, the minute I got into college, he really pushed me to take academics seriously. Going into the last year at Minnesota, I told the coach I was looking for an opportunity."

Despite the career boost in South Dakota, he was bypassed in the 2018 NFL Draft and received only two NFL tryout offers.

At the same time, he was being courted by the Blue Bombers and attended the club's spring mini-camp as an observer before finally signing with the CFL club earlier this month.

Streveler said he never lost faith in his ability.

"Patience is a good word. I guess I always thought, work hard and when you get your opportunity, make the most of it," he said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Chris Streveler is one of four quarterbacks on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' pre-season roster. </p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Chris Streveler is one of four quarterbacks on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' pre-season roster.

In Winnipeg, where the quarterback depth chart was thrown into disarray by the sudden retirement of Darian Durant, Streveler may have landed in an ideal spot and he's made a good connection with offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice. For now, he's content to soak up as much information as he can and not worry about his place in the pecking order.

"He's really smart," said Streveler of LaPolice. "We've got a lot of things going on and he does a great job of teaching it and I'm really fortunate to be able to learn from him."

He also understands adapting to a new game will take time.

"It's still really new to me and we're still putting in new plays, so it's not as comfortable as (college) but I'm hoping that by the end of camp, I'll continue to feel more comfortable every day," Streveler said.

Not surprisingly, his old coach believes Streveler has what it takes to succeed in Canada.

"A couple of things translate very well. First of all, his athleticism, the ability to create offence... the ability to extend a play is a tremendous benefit. A guy with his speed and athleticism on that bigger field will be present a real problem defensively. He improved so dramatically from year one to year two as a passer with his ability to throw the ball downfield. He's really become the kind of complete quarterback that will have great success at the next level," Nielson said.

Winnipeg's coaching staff would like nothing better than to see a raw prospect develop into a top CFL quarterback.

"I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," said Streveler, who has been able to reunite with his old college roomie in Minnesota, current Blue Bombers receiver Drew Wolitarsky.

"I lived with Woly for three years, he was one of my best friends. It's been really cool to reconnect with a guy I was super good friends with in Minnesota."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 8:36 PM CDT: Updates story

9:43 PM: Corrects age

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.