A true underdog story: Nick Arbuckle goes from pool boy to Ottawa Redblacks starting quarterback

Yesterday, the Ottawa Redblacks and Nick Arbuckle came together on a deal which brings him to Ottawa on a two year contract. The two year contract could grow to a total of $1,175,000 with all incentives, although Arbuckle’s road to this big contract didn’t come easy.

Community College

As most people do know, Arbuckle played division 1 NCAA football at the University of Georgia State, but prior to being recruited by the Panthers, he put together two solid seasons at Los Angeles Pierce College. His time at the community college went successful, gaining over 7,000 yards along with 73 passing touchdowns.

Year one at Georgia State

The two years he spent in Los Angeles helped himself get back onto the scouting boards, and not only did he open eyes of division one scouts, he signed with the university of Georgia State. Georgia state brought Arbuckle in for his final two years of eligibility and he proved right away that it was a good idea. In just his first season at the school, Arbuckle set school records with 3,283 passing yards on 259 completions and 23 passing touchdowns. The numbers Nick Arbuckle had in year one didn’t just set school records, but he was also the passing leader in the Sun Belt Conference and he fell at 16th in the NCAAF for passing yards along side 22nd for passing touchdowns.

Year two

Year one at Georgia State, Nick Arbuckle took on a challenge and broke all of the school’s passing records, but in year two Arbuckle went all out. In the 2015 season, Nick Arbuckle won the Sun Belt Conference Student-Athlete of the year, and broke nearly all of the conference’s passing records. He threw for 4,368 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 6 touchdowns. The numbers he put up in the two seasons combined for on average over 300 passing yards a game, and with that stat he was put into the talks of Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff for being able to do that.

Pro football

Looking over Arbuckle’s University stats, you may sit and wonder why he didn’t get a long term shot at NFL football. He was put into a group of college quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff, and proved that he could do big things at a college level so why didn’t he go to the NFL? Well, Nick Arbuckle did go ton the NFL. Arbuckle signed a mini camp contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2016.

Arbuckle was cut shortly after the rookie mini camp he spent with the Steelers, and at the time it looked as if he lacked height standing at 6 foot 1, lacked arm strength and after running a 5.23 40 at his Georgia State pro day many also believed he didn’t have the athletic ability to play at the next level.

Keeping his mind on the game

Although he was cut from his only profesional opportunity in Pittsburgh, it didn’t bring any negativity to Arbuckle. Nick Arbuckle and his wife Zakiyyah Shabazz kept positive thoughts during the time away from football and remained thankful to be together.

With Nick’s eyes on opportunities in the CFL and NFL, it was tough for him to find a job where he could just leave for roster spot in Canada or somewhere else. Nick Arbuckle worked two jobs during his waiting time for a contract, while his wife Zakiyyah worked three.

Arbuckle’s two jobs consisted of cleaning pools for a local pool company and washing dishes at a school cafeteria. He mentioned in a previous interview that working two part-time jobs gave him remaining time to train although with the question if he would ever play pro football he mentions, “We (Him and his wife) were just living paycheque to paycheque.”

Cleaning pools and washing dishes ended up being the best way to go in Arbuckle’s career. Just weeks prior to the 2018 CFL season, Nick Arbuckle was brought in to play with the Calgary Stampeders.

In the CFL

After splitting up a 4 year college career between both Pierce College and Georgia State, going through a Pittsburgh Steelers mini camp and juggling two part time jobs, Arbuckle was able to land onto the Calgary Stampeders.

In 2018, Arbuckle was in his first year of his two year contract in Calgary and served as the backup quarterback behind Bo Levi Mitchell. As a backup, Nick Arbuckle was able to get into 6 games where he threw for 144 yards and one touchdown on 17 completions. Along with the passing game he put together behind Mitchell, Arbuckle also played the role as a short yardage quarterback where he rushed for 73 yards and 5 touchdowns on top of 35 carries.

Following a quite successful year as a backup quarterback in Calgary, Arbuckle came back to Calgary in 2019 at the same position. Although Nick Arbuckle was still the Stampeders backup quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell fell onto the injury list and Arbuckle was able to get 7 starts.

Coming to Ottawa

In the 7 starts, Nick Arbuckle threw for over 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for an additional 4 touchdowns. The numbers Arbuckle put up in 2019 put him on the boards of many CFL scouts and fans going into the off-season.

Arbuckle was set to become a free agent on February 11th, although Marcel Desjardins and the Ottawa Redblacks weren’t willing to see him as a free agent. With that being said, Desjardins made a trade with the Calgary Stampeders which left the Redblacks with the rights of Nick Arbuckle.

After the Redblacks traded for the rights of Nick Arbuckle they came together on a two year contract worth up to $1,175,000 over the two years combined.

Congratulations to Nick Arbuckle on the big deal here in Ottawa, Ottawa is excited to see what you’ve got in store with us.

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