The cyberspace world knows him as simply a trick shot quarterback on YouTube, but Alex Tanney is much more than that. Tanney was a great quarterback at Monmouth College, which is a Division III school located in Illinois. He received the Melberger Award in 2009 that is annually awarded to the top Division III athlete. Tanney understands why people think of him only as a trick shot quarterback, but he believes he is far more than just some internet sensation.
“Yeah, but that’s expected coming from a small school. We’re not on ESPN every week so people really aren’t going to know those types of things. Everybody gives me grief about the video, but I just accept it I guess since I posted it. It went viral and there’s nothing I can do. I’m here to play football not throw trick shots,” said Tanney.
The video was made by Tanney while he was in college and it was never expected to go viral. The video was not made to get the attention of people or to try and get noticed by some NFL teams.
“That was not the intention one bit. We didn’t expect it to blow up. It was just me and my buddies having some fun after working out. It was not my intention,” Tanney said.
“I’ve been a coach’s son. I grew up around the game. I’ve been playing quarterback since a little kid so I’ve never done stuff like that before. It was just spur of the moment and it took off.”
Millions of people have checked out this trick shot specialist on the internet, but don’t count Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey as one of them.
“I had never seen the video, still haven’t by the way. The video I saw was football and that I heard about was football. Then we had some reports from when he was working out after his year. The things that he was doing and we liked what we heard so see if we can get him in here and let him compete,” said Gailey.
Tanney was nothing but sensational in college and his numbers at Monmouth prove it. He holds the Division III record for most passing yards by a quarterback with 14,249. More notably, he threw for 157 touchdowns in his career, which is the most all-time by a quarterback at any level in college football history.
He has also been working on his game with former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington. Pennington was an MVP runner up in 2008 and he knows a good quarterback when he sees one.
“Well I like Alex number one because of his work ethic. I think that he comes out here to work every time that we step out onto the field,” said Pennington via chinstrapsports.com. “He wants to get better and he understands the game of football. He has some unique talents with the size of his hand and how he can manipulate the football with his arm to make the throws. What we are working on is the consistency with his feet to match his arm talent and once you put those two things together you can have a really talented passer.”
Tanney was initially invited to tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but changed his mind when the Bills offered him an opportunity. Since Pennington is one of Tanney’s mentors it is not a complete shock that he leaned toward Buffalo whose current quarterback coach is David Lee. Lee coached Pennington when he played with the Miami Dolphins. Therefore, Tanney was influenced by the opportunity to learn from Lee in addition to what Pennington has already taught him.
“Coach Pennington’s really helped me out during the process. He kind of teaches the same things that Coach Lee preaches. That was kind of a jump start. He’s really helped me out and I’ve been in contact with him throughout the entire process so yes, definitely,” said Tanney.
The Bills are known for finding gems at the Division III level.
“Not only him (Fred Jackson), but you look at the other guys that have had success recently; Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts, Andy Studebaker, those types of guys; they’re starting to look at those lower level guys,” Tanney said. “You really do have a chance. That’s all I wanted was an opportunity to come to camp and I’ve been given that.”