Finishing on a high note

Ohio running back Julian Ross (left) celebrates a second-quarter touchdown with quarterback Nathan Rourke during the Bobcats’ win the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.

TORONTO — Former Ohio football quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) has been selected with the 15th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 Canadian Football League Draft by the BC Lions.

Rourke becomes the second Bobcat to be picked in the 69-year history of the CFL Draft and second in as many years. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats selected Rourke’s former teammate, running back Maleek Irons, with the 22nd overall pick in the third round of the 2019 CFL Draft.

Rourke, who was born in Victoria, B.C., was the first quarterback off the board in the 2020 CFL Draft. He is the CFL’s highest-drafted quarterback since Jesse Palmer went 15th to the Montreal Alouettes in 2001.

Rourke finished his three-year career at Ohio with a record of 24-13 as starting quarterback and was under center for an unprecedented three-straight bowl victories. He ranks first in program history in career touchdowns scored (51), touchdowns responsible for (111), total offense yards gained (10,091), total offense yards per play (7.65), total offense yards per game (258.7), passing yards per attempt (8.3), passing yards per game (191.2) and passing efficiency (146.5); tied for first in rushing touchdowns (49); second in completions (525), attempts (894), passing yards (7,457) and passing touchdowns (60); third in points scored (306) and completion percentage (58.7 percent); fifth in passing yards per completion (14.2); eighth in rushing yards (2,634); and ninth in rushing yards per game (67.0). He owns program single-season records for points scored (132; 2017), touchdowns scored (22; 2017), touchdowns responsible for (39; 2017), total offense yards per play (8.07; 2018), total offense yards per game (283.6; 2018), most passing yards per attempt (tied; 8.9; 2018), high passing efficiency (156.3; 2018) and rushing touchdowns (21; 2017). Rourke was the inaugural winner of the Jon Cornish Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding Canadian player in NCAA Football, in 2017-18 and repeated as the winner in ‘18-19. He was named one of five finalists for the award last month.

Rourke was named to the 2019 All-Mid-American Conference First Team after being named to the All-MAC Second Team the previous two seasons. He was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week three times during his senior season, bringing his career total to nine. Rourke set career highs in completions (200; sixth-most in program history), attempts (328; eighth-most in program history), completion percentage (61.0 percent; sixth-best in program history), passing yards (2,820; fourth-most in program history) and passing yards per game (216.9; fifth-most in program history) while throwing for 20 touchdown passes (tied for fourth-most in program history) against a career-low five interceptions in 2019. His passing efficacy rating of 150.3 ranked as the second-best in the MAC and second-best in program history. The dual-threat quarterback also got it done with his legs, ranking second on the team with 867 rushing yards and leading the squad with 13 rushing touchdowns (tied for seventh-most in program history). He accounted for 3,687 yards of total offense (second-most in program history) and averaged 7.65 yards per play (second-most in program history) and a career-high 283.6 yards per game, which set a new program record.

The second receiving touchdown of his career helped him account for 84 points and 34 touchdowns responsible for (fourth-most in program history). He finished the season ranked third among MAC quarterbacks in passing touchdowns, fourth in passing yards, fifth in completion percentage and sixth in completions while he ranked second among all MAC players in total offense and total offense yards per game and tied for fourth in touchdowns scored. He threw for over 300 yards twice and threw for multiple touchdowns seven times while rushing over 100 yards twice and rushing for multiple touchdowns three times. Rourke was named Most Valuable Player of the 23rd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl after rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 144 yards in his final collegiate game to lead the Bobcats to a 30-21 victory over Nevada on Jan. 3 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

Rourke also excelled in the classroom during his collegiate career. He was named to the Academic All-MAC Team twice and has garnered Distinguished Scholar Athlete recognition twice in addition to being named MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week twice. Earlier this month, he was named to the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college careers. Rourke received the Humanitarian Award prior to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl earlier this month.

Based in Vancouver, the BC Lions are coming off of a 2019 campaign in which they went 5-13 and finished last in the CFL’s West Division. The Lions will enter their first season under the leadership of head coach Rick Campbell in 2020.

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