Stingers slotback looks ahead to a career in the CFL

Liam Mahoney switched from quarterback to slotback in his third year on the team. Archives

Liam Mahoney switched from quarterback to slotback in his third year on the team. Archives

Liam Mahoney has impressed people at every level of football, except one. First a quarterback, now a slotback, he is getting ready for the possibility of taking his talents to the next level: the Canadian Football League.

Mahoney was one of four Stingers to attend the CFL Evaluation Camp, an event where all the top prospects get their chance to catch the eyes of coaches and scouts. Offensive tackle Anthony Barrette, running back Edem Nyamadi and defensive tackle Maurice Forbes were the other Stingers summoned to the camp, which took place March 4-6 in Toronto.

The event is where general managers, coaches and scouts test, interview and evaluate the prospects they may select in the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft on May 8.

“It was quite a busy weekend,” said Mahoney. “It was a lot of fun, but it’s also a weekend of non-stop stress because you want to do well, both in interviews and in testing. I truly feel blessed that I was asked to go, but it’s definitely stressful.”

Mahoney has enjoyed four great seasons at Concordia. In his first, he won the CIS Rookie of the Year Award as a quarterback. However, after two seasons as quarterback, Mahoney would have to switch to slotback in order to prepare for his future in football.

“[Stingers head] coach [Gerry] McGrath told me when he was recruiting me, that he was recruiting me as a quarterback,” recalled Mahoney. “But he said at some point, I’d be switched to receiver. He discussed it with my parents and I, and we agreed that’s where my future of playing football would be because there are no Canadian quarterbacks starting in the CFL.”

It’s hard to fathom that such a successful quarterback would have to change positions and still excel, but Mahoney did just that. The transition went smoothly, as Mahoney caught 45 passes for 619 yards and four touchdowns in the 2009 season and 49 passes for 589 yards and six receiving touchdowns in 2010.

“I think that because I was a scrambling quarterback and I’m athletic, I felt I could make the switch to slot,” he said. “At this point, it’s worked out well for me.”

Mahoney credits McGrath for his smooth transition to slotback. “He had a lot of confidence in me as a receiver,” said Mahoney. “I went right from being a starting quarterback to a starting receiver which helped me a lot. He put in a lot of time to help me.”

Mahoney also mentioned how McGrath’s system has helped to prepare him for the big leagues. “He runs a complicated pro-style offence, which I feel helped me in my interviews with teams and will have me more prepared than many other players if I get the chance to try out for a CFL team.”

Mahoney’s value in the draft will be determined by how he fares competing with fellow Canadians. By CFL rules, teams must keep 21 Canadians on their active roster, half of the total 42-man roster.

Being a Canadian trying to make it to the CFL, and having grown up in Montreal, it may be no secret which player Mahoney looks up to.

“I was a big [Ben] Cahoon fan, especially when I switched to receiver,” said Mahoney. “I feel that a lot of things he did with the Alouettes are like what I did at Concordia. I feel like I can be that type of player. […] I like Canadian guys, so I look at guys like Rob Bagg and Dave Stala. They both played in the CIS, so I hope to follow in their footsteps.”

As for which team he feels he would fit in? Well, Mahoney would welcome any opportunity. “I just feel that whatever team needs a Canadian guy or a receiver, that’s where I’ll go.”

What everyone would love to see is him staying in Montreal, just like he did when he chose to come to Concordia. Mahoney would look good in red, white and blue, but we’ll have wait and see if he’ll go from bee to bird.

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