Tanney aspires for more than YouTube stardom

Posted Jul 10, 2012

A viral video put NCAA Division III QB Alex Tanney on the national map, but the undrafted rookie wants his play to stand out in Kansas City this preseason

#4 Alex Tanney — Quarterback — Monmouth (Ill.)


Tanney (6-4, 220 lbs.) is the greatest college quarterback you’ve likely never heard of. Or at least the best you hadn’t heard of prior to his arrival in Kansas City or the “trick shot” video that went viral last year.

A product of tiny Monmouth College (Ill.) - a selective, private liberal arts college with enrollment of 1,321 students - Tanney took NCAA Division III football by storm. The third Tanney to play football for the Fighting Scots, Alex will without a doubt be known as the best from his family to go through the non-scholarship football program.

He finished his college career completing 1,205 of 1,756 pass attempts (68.6 pct.) and set an NCAA record with 157 career touchdown passes. He also set an NCAA Division III record, throwing for 14,249 yards and threw just 30 interceptions during his career at Monmouth.

Tanney worked was the Chiefs fourth quarterback during offseason practices in June.

Must-See Statistic:

With Tanney it might as well be a must-see video. Here’s the link to Tanney’s YouTube video that went viral last February.

Chiefs Nation Should Know:

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll referred to Alex Tanney as “trick shot” during one of rookie’s first OTA practices as a member of the Chiefs.

Several days later, media attending Chiefs offseason practices were transfixed on a common drill that typically draws little more than feint interest once the dog days of training camp begin.

Quarterbacks were using two trash cans stacked on top of one another for target practice. Everyone wanted to see if Tanney could replicate the types of throws that made him a YouTube sensation prior to his senior season at Monmouth.

Jim Zorn kept score of the drills. The other quarterbacks cheered on “tricky” when it was his time to throw.

“It kind of just went viral on us,” Tanney said of the video that currently has more than 2.6 million views on YouTube.

Tanney confirmed that all of the throws were real, though not necessarily completed on their first attempt.  

“We were kind of just goofing around with some of my buddies and we posted it and didn’t really expect it to take off, but it did,” Tanney said. “It was a good experience and I think it’s kind of passed me now.  I still take quite a bit of grief for it, but it’s all good I guess.”

The “grief” comes in the form of “trick shot” nicknames and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chiefs veterans force Tanney to perform a few trick throws for fans at training camp in St. Joseph this summer.

Tanney takes the kidding in stride, understanding the video is a big part of his past. But he doesn’t necessarily want the YouTube moniker to stick with him moving forward.

“No regrets,” Tanney said of making the video. “We had a lot of fun with it and it gave a lot of exposure to our college and Division III football.

“I’d like to think that even if I didn’t post it, based on the numbers and success that I’ve had, I’d still be given this opportunity.”

No one can argue with Tanney’s college production. His 157 career touchdown passes are the most ever by an NCAA quarterback, regardless of division, and his 14,249 career passing yards are the most in NCAA Division III history.

Trick throws may have put Tanney on the map outside of small-school football circles, but replicating his on-field success at Monmouth will be the determining factor in whether or not he has the ability to make a name for himself in the pro game.

“I’m just trying to be able to jump in and belong,” Tanney said. “I understand what’s going on and when I get to the point of checking in and out of stuff, recognizing fronts and how they roll in to coverage, I’ll apply that and be able to use it.”

In addition to being the only rookie in a group of four quarterbacks, Tanney is also battling a shortened learning curve as he vies for a roster spot.

Kansas City didn’t sign Tanney until June 5th with more than half its offseason program already completed.

“It feels like cramming for a final in trying to take in as much information as possible having jumped in about a month late,” said Tanney. “So I’m just trying to catch up.”

A son of a high school football coach, Tanney’s football acumen is one of his assets. He’ll likely conquer the mental aspect of catching up. In addition, teammate Andy Studebaker - a fellow small-school player from Wheaton (Ill.) - is proof that making the leap from Division III to the NFL is possible.

Tanney just wants to prove to people that “the small-school kid” belongs.

“We haven’t done any trick shots yet,” Zorn said. “My demand of him is to never miss anything, though. If he can make those shots, he can throw to a receiver.”

Oh, and about the trash can game Chiefs quarterbacks played during OTAs. Time ran out before Tanney’s final round came, but “trick shot” was holding his own against Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi.

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