By Joe Scalzo
Cardinal Mooney High graduate Nate Burney is hoping to make a major impression at the Edmonton Eskimos’ minicamp.
Burney, a standout running back who helped lead the Cardinals to the 2005 state championship game, has a three-day tryout for the Canadian Football League team, whose minicamp begins Tuesday in Bradenton, Fla.
“I’m looking forward to getting [down] there and competing,” said Burney, who ran for 467 yards as a senior for Akron in 2010. “I’m just taking it day by day. Football is what I know and hopefully I can do what I’ve got to do and they’ll offer me a contract.”
Burney’s high school teammate, Desmond Marrow, recently signed with the Oilers as a cornerback. Burney went with Marrow to a workout with his position coach in Ontario and impressed the coach enough to earn the tryout.
“He was killing it in the workout,” said Marrow, who played collegiately at Toledo and later spent time in training camp with the Texans and Buccaneers. “By the end of the workout, the coach invited him to minicamp.”
Burney is playing with the Erie (Pa.) Explosion of the Continental Indoor Football League, a 10-team league based in the Great Lakes region. He’s rushed 40 times for 186 yards and nine TDs and has caught three passes for 29 yards and a TD. He’s also returned 13 kickoffs for a 16.3-yard average and a TD.
Previously, Burney played for the Hildesheim Invaders of the German Football League 2, a 16-team league that competes in the second tier of American football in Germany. Burney traveled around Europe, playing football, teaching an English class, even going to the London Olympics.
“That was an experience,” he said. “I learned a lot of new stuff.”
Burney knows this week’s tryout is no guarantee of a permanent spot, but he’s spent his entire career proving people wrong. Despite standing just 5-foot-6, he finished his Mooney career as the school’s second-leading rusher. Then, after playing a year at Division II Ashland, he transferred to Akron and emerged as one of the team’s top two running backs by his senior year.
“I have the opportunity to get paid to do what I love to do every day,” he said. “As long as I can do it, I’m going to keep doing it. It might not be where I want to be, but every day I wake up feeling blessed.”