Chris Streveler didn't have to wait long to make his professional debut. The Crystal Lake native will start at quarterback in Thursday's Canadian Football League season opener for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, coach Mike O'Shea announced Monday.
Streveler, a Marian Central graduate, will start his pro career six months after his college playing days came to an end at South Dakota.
In doing so, he will become the first rookie quarterback out of college to start in the CFL's Week 1 since Anthony Calvillo started for the Las Vegas Posse in 1994.
“It’s going to be Chris Streveler,” O’Shea told the media in Winnipeg on Monday. “We said it would be an evaluation of everything they’ve done up to this point. We just feel he’s won that competition.”
Streveler played in each of the Blue Bombers’ two preseason games. He was 10 for 10 passing for 140 yards and a touchdown in his preseason debut June 1. On June 8, he went 3 of 9 passing for 44 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Streveler beat out Alex Ross and Bryan Bennett for the starting spot. Last season’s starter, Matt Nichols, is out with a knee injury for the first four to six weeks of the season.
“Everybody can see his athleticism,” O’Shea said. “He gets through [the playbook] very quickly, he retains the information. He makes good, quick decisions.”
Streveler was a two-time Northwest Herald Football Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 while at Marian Central. He started his college career at Minnesota before transferring to South Dakota after three seasons, one of which he redshirted.
Streveler signed with Winnipeg on May 4. Last fall, the 23-year-old was the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the FCS.
He led the FCS in total offense with 373.4 yards a game as a senior for the Coyotes. He passed for 4,134 yards and rushed for 720. His 43 total touchdowns (32 passing, 11 rushing) were third in the FCS.
He had hoped for a chance in the NFL, even working out with the Bears in April. But after he was passed over on NFL Draft weekend, he soon turned his attention northward.
“I felt like I have a good chance to go in and compete for a position, whereas with an NFL team it would be more of a tryout deal," Streveler told the Northwest Herald in May.
Streveler could not be reached for further comment this week.
The Blue Bombers square off against the Edmonton Eskimos at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
“I thought he did very well through camp, played well in the games,” O’Shea said. “He gives us a good chance to go out there and lead the team and win games.”