SMU's star QB Glavic follows Nill to Calgary

By MONTY MOSHER Sports Reporter
Fri. Jan 9 - 2:33 PM

Hec Crighton Trophy-winning quarterback Erik Glavic, ahown here in this file photo, is leaving the Saint Mary’s Huskies for the Calgary Dinos, following former head SMU coach Blake Nill, now the Dinos’ bench boss. (Eric Wynne / Staff)

Hec Crighton Trophy-winning quarterback Erik Glavic has departed the Saint Mary’s Huskies for the Calgary Dinos, leaving a potential rift between the current Saint Mary’s regime and former head coach Blake Nill, now the Dinos’ bench boss.

Glavic, 22, informed Saint Mary’s head coach Steve Sumarah late Thursday he was moving on to the Canada West program to rejoin his former head coach. He did not lose a year of eligibility in 2008 and can play three more seasons.

The Pickering, Ont., native who came to Saint Mary’s in 2005 confirmed he had a holiday visit with Nill in Calgary.

“It was a tough decision,” Glavic said Friday. “It was just a good overall situation to walk into. There’s a big upside to going there and a lot of possibilities for me. There were a lot of reasons that factored into it. There were a lot of reasons to stay, but there are pros and cons to every decision you’re going to make and this was a decision that had to be made sooner than later, and that made it even tougher.

“When talking to Coach Sumarah we both sort of figured it would be best to come to a decision quickly as opposed to letting it linger for another semester.”

Glavic said he wasn’t leaving a problem at Saint Mary’s, but moving to an opportunity in Calgary. He declined to elaborate on he and Nill reconnected.

“I have nothing bad to say about Saint Mary’s,” he said. “The time that I had here was great. I had great teammates and good coaches and it’s definitely going to be one of the toughest things to leave. I went to war with my teammates for three-and-a-half years, so that’s going to be by far one of the hardest things to leave, but the opportunity and the situation that was presented was one that not only myself, but also my family, felt I had to act upon.”

Glavic, a six-foot-six scrambling pivot who also played basketball for the Huskies, had an outstanding football season in 2007 both as a rusher and passer. He was the first Saint Mary’s player to be named the top player in the CIS since Chris Flynn in 1990.

But he suffered a torn ACL prior during the 2007 Uteck Bowl win over Laval in Halifax and was unable to play the following week in a Vanier Cup loss to Manitoba.

He had surgery last February and was unable to participate fully in training camp drills in August, announcing prior to camp he was only 50-50 to play a down all season.

He made a return to the line-up in mid-September at home against Mount Allison, throwing a touchdown pass in less than one quarter on the field. But he went to the sidelines after being tackled complaining that his knee still didn’t feel right and never took another snap for Saint Mary’s, despite repeated speculation he would be ready to make a comeback during the post-season.

The Huskies are hardly destitute at the pivot spot.

After trying several substitutes for the injured Glavic, Sumarah turned the offence over to rookie Jack Creighton at mid-season. The strong-armed and athletic Creighton was solid down the stretch, earning most valuable player in SMU’s Loney Bowl win over St. Francis Xavier and taking the team into the national semifinal at Western Ontario.

Sumarah said he didn’t want to make the situation negative, but conceded he was disappointed to lose Glavic under the circumstances.

“We obviously heard lots of rumours that had gone around about this, but at the end of the day we felt Erik was going to be a part of our program until he graduated and I guess that’s the assumption you make every time that people are in your program,” he said. “He felt at this time there were different options more suitable to what he was looking for and felt a change was in order. From our standpoint we spent a long tumultuous year, to say the least, at that (quarterback) position and we’re excited by the fact Jack Creighton is taking the helm and is our No. 1 guy. The team has rallied behind him.”

Sumarah said he was unaware Glavic had any concerns at Saint Mary’s.

“If there was a problem I thought all things had been taken care of,” he said. “Erik had a tough year and had a lot of pressures on him in many different ways, but I thought we had worked through all those things. But, obviously, he felt there were better opportunities for him elsewhere.”

The Huskies wasted no time naming Creighton as their projected starter for 2009. They also announced they’ve recruited top quarterback prospect Mackenzie Blewett of Burlington, Ont.

Sumarah said his team has had a strong recruiting campaign and hit the jackpot with Tristan Jones, whose brother Devon played on the team in 2008. Tristan Jones holds a series of Canadian junior rushing records.

Calgary has attracted several players from Saint Mary’s since Nill left for his home province in the winter of 2006.

More than half a dozen ex-Huskies have played for Nill, most notably linebacker Andrea Bonaventura, last year’s Canada West defensive player of the year.

Glavic has the same injury that felled New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and has had many of the same issues in his recovery.

While nearly a year removed from his surgery, he says he still has a long road ahead before he believes he can be the player he was.

“That’s what I’m hoping for. We’ll have to just wait and see if that will happen. I did some tests over the break and the knee is still not there, still not ready. It’s going to need another good six months of rehab. In speaking with training camp over there (in Calgary), they feel with five good months with me they feel I can be the player I was. That’s a positive to keep me working hard.”

Ironically, the AUS will host Canada West in the 2009 Uteck Bowl in November, leaving open the possibility for a SMU-Calgary clash. Nill did not immediately return a telephone message left at his office.

([email protected])