The CFL Draft is set to hit the airwaves live on May 12th, at 8PM EST and will no doubt provide some young athletes with platforms to make their respective marks on the Canadian Football League. Having gone through it last season, and now ready to return in 2015, we caught up with Ottawa REDBLACKS’ quarterback: Danny O’Brien to see how year 1 in the CFL changed him as a football player.
CFLPA: Hi Dan, thanks you for taking some time to answer a few questions for us and your fans! Prior to arriving to your first day of camp last season, what did you expect a professional football environment to be like? Did your perceptions change once you were in the fold?
Danny O’Brien: “Prior to arriving into camp, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the professional environment, but knew that I wanted to ask a lot of questions, learn as much as possible every day, and compete as hard as I could each practice to prove myself. My perceptions changed a little once I was in the fold in the sense that I knew that I could succeed at this level, but realized the amount of dedication and attention to detail that will have to come in order to make it.”
CFLPA: Transitioning from college to professional football, what main differences do you see in the game?
Danny: “The initial differences were obviously the differences between the American and Canadian rules, etc. Aside from that, the little nuances and details matter so much more on this level. Playing against vets that have played for so long, you have to continually sharpen your craft in order to have a chance. Along with that comes a demand for much more mental preparation in order to slow the game down when you’re on the field.”
PA: Are there any moments that stick out from your rookie season last year, good or bad?
Danny: “Both. I will never forget my first professional touchdown pass at home against Winnipeg to my roommate Khalil Paden. It was one of the best moments of my life, going from a guy just trying to make the team in training camp to contributing towards a win at home in TD Place in front of all of our fans. The bad moments would definitely be the interceptions. I have learned from those mistakes and will use those bad experiences to motivate me to continue to grind to improve my game as a QB.”
PA: What did you learn in your rookie year that will help you as you continue to develop as a professional football player?
Danny: “I learned how to be a professional, and what it takes to lead a huddle of grown men. I learned how to approach and prepare for a practice, a game, a season. It is a long season, and it takes a tremendous amount of focus to continually be honest with yourself that you are coming out to the practice field every day to improve as a player. I learned what I need to work on as a player and leader, and hope to improve on those weaknesses this mini-camp and training camp.”
PA: Is there anything that you would tell yourself as you prepared to enter the CFL, now that you have a better handle on the grind?
Danny: “I would tell myself to block out all distractions and to just focus on improving my game on a daily basis, and everything else will take care of itself.”
PA: “What is your 2015 goal entering your second year in the CFL?”
Danny: “To establish myself as a legitimate professional quarterback and to be the best possible teammate that I can be every time I step foot onto the field.”
A big thanks goes out to Danny as he prepares to make his mark as a 2nd year pivot in Ottawa’s backfield. We want to wish Danny the best of luck in 2015, as he and the REDBLACKS kick off their 2nd inaugural season!