From Quarterback to Guard

Brett Boyko might just be the biggest quarterback in Canadian high school football history.

Entering his senior season in 2009 at St. Joseph High School, the hulking Saskatoon native was encouraged by Canadian Football Hall of Famer Matt Dunigan to try his hand at quarterback. Up to that point Boyko had only played on the defensive line, but he was willing to give it a try.

The 6-foot-7, 265-pound pivot was an immediate success, throwing for 1,223 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven games in his senior season.

Yet today Boyko spends his time protecting quarterbacks, as an offensive tackle in camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s hoping his unique skill set helps him stick with the team that signed him as an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 Draft.

Boyko feels his unique history, playing behind centre and being able to understand the quarterback’s perspective, could help him stick with the team. He is also ready to be a secret weapon for his new team.

“Hey, if they need a trick play or anything, I might have a few throws left in me,” Boyko told Saskatoon Star Phoenix reporter Kevin Mitchell in a recent interview.

The switch from quarterback to the offensive line came after came after Boyko accepted a scholarship from the University of Las Vegas Nevada in 2010.

As Mitchell reports, Boyko learned the position so fast he was able to step into a “high-profile job” at left tackle on his first day as a freshman. He started the team’s season-opener against the Wisconsin Badgers, and went on to start every game the rest of his career.

Boyko’s multi-position history is rare among offensive linemen, which is an advantage (interestingly Boyko isn’t the only rookie offensive-lineman-who-used-to-play-quarterback in the NFL. Brandon Scherff, the Redskins first-round pick in the 2015 Draft, also played quarterback in high school).

In the modern NFL, especially on the offensive or defensive line, athletic ability is more important than years of training or pedigree. In other words offensive linemen are developed through coaching.

“Understand that 50 percent of the offensive linemen on the roster weren’t drafted,” said writer Dave Sparado. “The message is that the NFL develops many linemen through coaching. Anyway, I want to see Brett Boyko, a 6-foot-7 guard, play in this offense. Great athlete. Former quarterback. Could be something. He is one of a group of interior linemen who the Eagles will get to work on and see if they can help.”

Another advantage is intellect. Boyko was a four-time honouree of the Academic All-Mountain West, and a member of the UNLV Dean’s Honour List last year.

Fellow writer Tommy Lawlor, who wrote a comprehensive report on all 2015 Eagles rookies, noted that “Brett Boyko and Cole Manhart are the offensive linemen who caught my eye. Boyko is a very good run blocker.”

“It’s a pretty amazing journey when you think of it,” Boyko’s high school coach Darin Wist told Mitchell. “A high school quarterback goes down (south) and within a year, you’re starting on the offensive line at a Division 1-A school. It’s pretty unique.”

Boyko is excited to see where the journey will take him.

“I’m super excited to go to a place like Philly,” Boyko told Mitchell. “They have diehard fans and a great environment. I’m a little nervous, too, because I’m moving in and starting fresh. I’m not a first-round draft pick. I’ve got to go out there and make the team, so I’m a little nervous and anxious about all that. But at the end of the day, it’s all excitement – I’m more than pumped to be an Eagle.”

Mitchell’s complete article is available here: