Having transferred from Washington State to BYU, Squally Canada couldn’t wait to get out on the field and play for his new team. His first shot at doing so came as BYU was trailing rival Utah during last season’s Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.
“That was kind of tough,” said Canada. “I felt like, ‘Great! It’s my first collegiate game’ but then on the other hand I was like, ‘Maybe I should just wait till next year’ because I really didn’t know the plays or the offense. I had been on the scout team all year, and my mold was with those guys and my gel was with those guys. I had been with the scout team quarterback Koy Detmer, and we had a great little relationship. Then to transfer over within the short period of time was kind of difficult. I got in and things didn’t go too well.”
Canada was right. His first carry in a BYU uniform didn’t go too well. Canada recalls that moment.
“I just remember jogging onto the field and thinking, ‘Okay, here is your big chance to make a play and try and change the game,’” recalled Canada. “I just get the ball, ball pops out, and I’m thinking, ‘You gotta be serious! First carry, fumble, 28-0 on national television, family’s watching, everybody’s watching.’ I was like, ‘Ah man!’ After that I didn’t get back in the game unless I was on special teams, but after that fumble my whole mindset was just, ‘Next year grind in the off-season and get it next year.’ I worked on holding the ball.”
After tearing it up all season long on the scout team, Canada’s fumble left him wounded on the inside, knowing he hurt his team instead of helping. He went home to be with his family after the bowl game.
“I went back home and worked with my pops and he really got my mentality right,” Canada said. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry about it. One play isn’t going to define you.’”
Along with his father, Canada’s BYU teammates also came to his side to uplift and encourage him.
“Yeah, [they] definitely did,” said Canada. “Everybody picked me up and they all know and tell me what I’m capable of doing. I know the team’s got my back and I’ve got their back as well. I appreciate everything those guys have done for me in making sure they lift me up and not allow me to hang my head.”
To this day the thought of his first carry in a BYU uniform has left him with an emotional scar.
“It definitely still haunts me,” said Canada. “When I first got back to Utah, teachers were asking my name because we just started new class. I was like, ‘Squally Canada’ and they were like, ‘Oh that guy?’ I was like, ‘Okay’ so people just kept bringing it up and bringing it up. It has just been eating at me still because that was the last taste I had in my mouth was that fumble.”
It’s a new year and with it a new opportunity in 2016. Squally Canada has taken the negatives of yesterday and used them to motivate and push him even harder to succeed tomorrow.
“Now you can say it is motivation for me, and it has me hungry for next year,” Canada said. “Hopefully next year my first carry next year will go for positive yards. That’s all I want. I want positive yards, maybe even a touchdown hopefully.”
As quickly as Canada wishes to rid his memory of that fumble one thing appears to be certain. He’s really enjoying his time being at BYU and a part of the football team now under the direction of Kalani Sitake.
“It’s been great!” said Canada. “You know, everybody here is super nice and everybody is super friendly. This is a great school and a beautiful place. I left my headphones and my wallet in class the other day. I came back two hours later and it’s still there, so it’s a really nice environment and it’s really safe environment. It’s been a great process for me, especially the football games when I sat out last year just going to the games. The atmosphere, it’s a beautiful atmosphere.”
He’s also enjoying the football atmosphere and now feels he is a part of the team.
“It was the same as being out there at Washington State, but actually to me it was a little more fun [here at BYU],” said Canada. “Me and the scout team guys really molded together to give the defense a great look. I look at it not in a bad way. I look at it like, ‘Okay, this is an opportunity for me to help the team and the defense be great. We really molded together and so the scout team was fun.
“You know football is football, especially as a running back when you get the ball. You just try and make plays when you get the ball, but in different aspects I feel like we are a little bit more united and playing more as a team. I feel like the guys are really gelling together. It might just be me because I wasn’t with the team last year, but from last year’s spring to now I feel like I’m really gelled in with the guys and the guys are taking me well.”
Canada first learned of BYU after being recruited by Geoff Martzen who was at that time at Boise State. He also learned more about BYU from a former BYU recruit who was supposed to sign with BYU but ended up at Cal.
“[Geoff Martzen] from Boise State who is up there now at Colorado State recruited me,” said Canada. “When he was up at Boise State he recruited me, so when I turned in my transfer papers he recognized who I was and started the process. I recognized BYU from my friend Khari [Vanderbilt], who was supposed to come here but is at Cal now. He brought me in and introduced me to BYU, so that’s kind of how I found out about BYU.”
He admits that when he first decided to come to BYU the decision was a hard one for him. Canada sported dreadlocks and with the honor code all the hair had to go. After some prayer he decided it was time to snip his locks.
“It was tough,” said Canada. “As you know I had dreads and had to cut my dreads and doing that. The honor code was a huge thing for me, but I sat down, prayed about it, and talked to my mom and dad and my dad said it would be a great school for me. So, I sent my papers in to BYU.”