By CLAUDE SCILLEY
You might find some people who grow up playing quarterback who regret the day when someone tells them they’re no longer going to be the guy doing the talking in the huddle.
Jeremy Pendergast wouldn’t be one of them.
“Very happy,” is how the former Holy Cross Crusader described what it feels like now to be catching footballs, rather than throwing them.
“Quarterback’s a hard position,” he said Monday, when he was one of 15 players unveiled as part of the Queen’s Golden Gaels freshman class of 2015, delighted to be introduced as a receiver. “I couldn’t play quarterback at the next level; it’d be too tough.”
Pendergast was the quarterback at Holy Cross and he backed up Dylan Fisher with the Kingston Grenadiers junior club in 2013, but he became a receiver with both teams fulltime last year, and he blossomed.
“Quarterback involves a lot more thinking and repetition and working at the craft of being a quarterback, and I never really got the grasp of it,” he said. “I had a little shoulder tendinitis and when my shoulder started to hurt, I went over and lined up with the receivers and I started having success there.
“At receiver it’s more tangible—I’ve got to get faster, I’ve got to get better at running routes, they’re things that I can control, that I can work hard to get better at. Quarterback’s a gift. You either have it or you don’t. It’s a tough position to learn. At receiver I feel like I can learn.”
He learned well, if the opinion of Gaels coach Pat Sheahan matters. He said Pendergast is “the best available kid that we could get” from the collective graduating class of Kingston-area high schools.
“If you look at his abilities singularly, he’s big, he runs well, he’s got great body control, he’s got good hands. What Jeremy needs to do now is come into a forum where he’s practising every day against better players. He needs to improve himself physically.
“He’s a naturally gifted kid. Now what he needs to do is face a higher level of competition, and we’ll see how good he can be.”
Pendergast has Queen’s blood in his veins. His father, Tim, was the quarterback of the 1992 national championship team. His uncle, Jim, was on the 1983 Vanier Cup finalist and his brother, Matt, just completed his second season with the Gaels.
After a signing ceremony in the Alumni Lounge at the Athletics and Recreation Centre, Jeremy said there was never any question about where he would go.
“I grew up in Kingston; I always wanted to go to Queen’s,” he said. “I always wanted to play Queen’s football. There are other great schools, but Queen’s made the most sense to me.
“They’ve got a great engineering program, the prospect of me playing is high, the recruiting class coming in has a great group of receivers. We’ve got a great quarterback in Nate Hobbs. It seems like a good situation to come into.”
As for the prospect of quickly moving up the depth chart of a team with a fairly inexperienced group of receivers, Pendergast was modest.
“I’m not worried about playing time,” he said. “I just hope I can contribute to the team, in practice or in games.”