Bo Levi Mitchell is in a new offense, a new team, a new country.
But he’s still at home in the pocket, where on Friday he directed the Calgary Stampeders to a winning drive in an exhibition game.
Two days later, he made the cut, and will enter the Canadian Football League regular season as the Stampeders’ No. 3 quarterback.
“They like what I’m doing as a rookie coming into to make plays and at the same time be unselfish,” said Mitchell, who in 2010 led Eastern Washington to the Football Championship Subdivision title and last year won the Walter Payton Award as the outstanding player in FBS.
In the preseason, Mitchell completed 11 of 17 pass attempts for 128 yards, and made his argument for a roster spot when he completed two passes to set the stage for a final field goal in a 33-31 win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“The team really came together on that last drive, and the guys caught everything.” Mitchell said. “The fans were screaming so loud that you have to yell as loud as you can for the center to hear you.
“That’s as fun as it gets. That’s the way football is supposed to be played. It’s not supposed to be easy.”
“We were very pleased with Bo and his two performances,” head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said. “He showed the makings of a quarterback who has a real good chance to play in this league.”
Since Mitchell signed as a free agent on April 30, he’s adjusted to a bigger field, 12 men on the field, and even the metric system, but the toughest has been the speed of the pro game.
“The DBs are pros,” Mitchell said. “They’re a lot faster, so you’re never throwing to an open receiver. You better make the right throw.”
Mitchell is in an ideal setting for his CFL apprenticeship. Hufnagel and offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson are former quarterbacks, and Dickenson was a star at Big Sky Conference rival Montana.
“I knew he came from is where I came from,” Mitchell said. “It’s huge to have someone coaching here who has done it and done it well.”
Mitchell knows there’s more hard work ahead.
“Something that Coach Huff pointed out this morning is, ‘Don’t get relaxed. Don’t get complacent.’ I’m going to keep working,” Mitchell said.