Nick Arbuckle, the 26 years old quarterback who signed a 2-year deal with the Ottawa Redblacks in January this year has indeed come a long way.
It wasn’t an easy journey after college before he got a foothold in the professional CFL ranks. Yet as luck would have it, the Redblacks came calling with a juicy deal for him to be their starting quarterback.
Arbuckle recalled that he began playing football as young as seven in an interview with Stampeders. When he was a junior high student at St. Bonaventure High School, he was made the backup of his team.
However, a young Arbuckle wanted to get a starting position elsewhere so he requested a transfer to another school. At his new school, he didn’t stay for more than eight periods before he made up his mind he wanted out.
According to CFL News, on the second day at his new school, he left class and put a call through to his dad. He told his dad he wanted to return to his old school, Saint Bonaventure, as he did not see the current school making him any better than he already was.
Arbuckle recounted that he went back to his previous school the next day with a new determination – to do all that he could daily to become a better quarterback and the best teammate ever.
That was his first foray into being a backup quarterback and it helped shape him to become one of the best backups.
In senior high, Arbuckle was once again made the backup. He declined and asked for another position to help him develop as a player. He was given the tight end to mark the 3rd spot that he’ll be playing on the offensive side of the ball.
The quarterback disclosed that this new position really helped him when he’s under center.
“I know what it’s like to run a route versus a certain coverage and to feel different zones and to attack liberties of DBs, I know what it’s like to block,” he said in the CFL article.
“I know what it’s like to take a double team on inside zone and read the linebacker at the next level and outside, you’re trying to reach a defensive end and create an edge. There’s a lot of things that can help communicate that can help me from a quarterback position.”
After high school, Arbuckle went to Los Angeles City College because they gave him the position of a quarterback. At LACC, he eventually won the starting job and ended with a successful game in his first collegiate experience.
He was at LACC for about two years before joining Georgia State University in 2014. At Georgia State, he rose up to the top ranks of NCAA football. In 2015, he was awarded the First-Team All-Sunbelt Conference honors.
It was at Georgia State Arbuckle met Zakiyya who he later married in 2019. Arbuckle remembered that even though things were somewhat hard on him and his then girlfriend, Zakiyya but they never lost faith that good times will come. And it eventually came but it didn’t come as easy as expected.
Photo credit: Global News / Cami Kepke
“I know everybody has their own story and a lot of people struggle with their own things but it was such a blessing to have my wife at the time, supporting me because we never lost hope that things were going to be better in the future than they were at that time,” Arbuckle said.
“A lot of it had to do with our faith and our faith in God and our relationship with each other. That helps bring us out of, you know, the dark times that we were in or troubles that we faced.”
In a story published by Ottawa Sun, Arbuckle said Zakiyya held three jobs to enable focus and train so he could get a shot in the CFL. Their hard work and perseverance ultimately paid off in 2018 when the Stampeders sought him out.
At Calgary Stampeders, he played together with Bo Levi Mitchell and Dave Dickenson for two seasons. When Mitchell couldn’t play in the playoff of the West Division race due to injury and Arbuckle was called to replace him, people started to take note of Arbuckle.
At Calgary, he won the Most Outstanding player in 2018 and was part of the squad that won the Grey Cup MVP. These achievements along with his outstanding performance on the field made the Ottawa Redblacks snapped him up from the Stamps before he became a free agent.
Right now, Ottawa finished 2019 with a league-worst record of 3-15. So, they are in dire need of whoever would turn their bad fortune around. That’s one of the reasons for acquiring the rights of Arbuckle from the Stamps.