Trick-shot quarterback Alex Tanney gets invitation to Bills’ rookie camp

Doug Farrar

The draft scouting process is generally a long and complicated one, but there are times when various outliers jump up for other reasons than the usual height/weight/speed concerns. You may remember former San Jose State defensive end Jarron Gilbert getting a great deal of notoriety for a 2008 YouTube video, in which he displayed his athleticism and explosiveness by jumping out of a swimming pool just before the 2009 NFL draft. He was originally selected by the Chicago Bears in the third round of that draft. Since then, he's also spent time on the New York Jets roster, and he's now with the Buffalo Bills.

Turns out that the Bills are open to other YouTube sensations, as they made clear this week. When Monmouth College quarterback Alex Tanney put this video up last year, the buzz started quickly -- and it hasn't stopped.

Several NFL teams asked Tanney to compete in their rookie minicamps this month, and he accepted the invitation of the Bills, who start their camp May 11.

"I'm from a small school, and the only thing I've ever really wanted was an opportunity to get into a camp," the 23-year-old Tanney told SI.com about the chance. "And now I have that in Buffalo, so I'm anxious to get out there and compete for a spot."

Tanney enjoys the notoriety  from the video, but he's now focused on making his next dream come true. "The success and the numbers I put up speak for themselves rather than the YouTube video," Tanney said. "But obviously, that's what people are going to talk about ... We really didn't expect it to take off like it did. It kind of blew up. We had fun with it. It was a good experience. But I kind of think that's past me. I'm just looking forward to getting my shot in the NFL."

Of course, NFL teams aren't just going to call up any trick-shot guy; Tanney does have some pretty impressive qualifications from a purely football perspective. The 14,429 yards he passed for at Monmouth gave him the all-time Division III record, and his 157 touchdown passes is the all-time NCAA mark. Tanney worked with Chad Pennington at the TEST Football Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., before the draft, and though he suspected that he'd miss out on hearing his name called, Tanney wanted to be as prepared as possible.

[Also: Washington Redskins don't take long to fall in love with Robert Griffin III]

Tanney's in a good spot for his position. Head coach Chan Gailey is one of the best quarterback developers in the NFL, and current Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick shares Tanney's past -- he was selected in the late seventh round after a collegiate career at a school not exactly known for a feeder stream to the NFL (Harvard). Fitzpatrick backup Tyler Thigpen was also a seventh-round pick a few years back.

So, the Bills have no problem thinking outside the box. Or outside the pool. Vince Young recently tried out for the team, but can he hit the side of a goalpost on command from 50 yards away throwing from his knees? Maybe he should start practicing...

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