Anthony Daley’s football journey has taken him from the Greendell Falcons midget program all the way to B.C., but he’s finally back home again.
A graduate of J.H. Bruns Collegiate in Winnipeg, Daley was courted by a couple different junior football programs, but ultimately chose to play for the Langley Rams in Langley, B.C. as he had family close to that area and wanted to experience the game outside of his home province.
“I googled the closest team to where my uncle lived in B.C., and my uncle lived in South Surrey and the team was in South Surrey at the time but they moved to Langley a couple weeks after that coincidentally,” Daley said.
“I talked to the coach (former Manitoba Bison Jeff Alamolhoda) and we didn’t know each other from a hole in the ground, and he was just like ‘come out to spring camp and we’ll see what you can do.’ Then it all just kind of took off from there – I did well and now I’m where I am.”
To say Daley did well is a bit of an understatement. The offensive lineman went on to win two British Columbia Football Conference (BCFC) championships – the first in 2012 and the second in 2014 – and was also named a CJFL All-Canadian in both 2012 and 2013.
Daley’s success with the Rams also garnered him some attention from the B.C. Lions. For three seasons, starting in 2013, he practiced with the team as a territorial exemption (someone who doesn’t count towards the team’s roster limit).
After finishing his final year of junior eligibility this past year, Daley faced an interesting dilemma. He could either pursue the possibility of gaining a roster spot – much like fellow BCFC graduate Andrew Harris did in 2010, or he could return home for university and hone his game in the CIS. Ultimately, Daley chose the CIS route and a commitment to the University of Manitoba Bisons for 2016.
Daley noted the importance of a college education as one of the biggest reasons for coming back home.
“A lot of the guys [in B.C.] actually told me they thought that I should go to school,” Daley said. “The thing I’ve been hearing from a lot of people over the years is, ‘hey, go get an education and come and do this [play professionally] after, there’s no rush.’ So, that’s kind of where my mind’s at with that.”
Daley’s relationship with Brian Dobie
Bisons football head coach Brian Dobie has recognized Daley’s talent for a number of years, and the offensive lineman has a tremendous relationship with the herd’s bench boss.
“He’s a unique recruit, because I’ve recruited him for a few years now, and I know him the way I know many of my own players,” Dobie said.
The Bisons head coach also noted Daley’s dedication to his hometown, as he would return from B.C. in the offseason to take classes in the winter term.
“The fit back here is so good, because he’s been a U of M student for the last few years,” Dobie said. “He plays football in the fall and doesn’t go to school. Second term he comes back home, crosses the river and goes to the U of M, so he’s moving towards his degree already.”
With two veteran offensive linemen from the 2015 season now graduated, Daley’s commitment couldn’t come at a better time for Dobie in terms of leadership and experience.
“He brings a lot. He’s an intelligent guy; he’s an aggressive player and an intelligent person. That’s a pretty good combination,” Dobie said.
“He’s got great junior experience combined with some literal pro experience – another great set of criteria as to why he’s so valuable as a recruit. We lose a couple starters on our offensive line, and Anthony coming in just makes us that much more competitive.”
Ultimately, Daley is no stranger to the Bisons program and his addition to the roster, in the eyes of some, is a long time coming.
“I was training with the team in the offseason so I’ve always been a familiar face – I guess a bit of a tease, so I’m sure it’s a bit of a relief now,” Daley said.