PROVO — During spring practices, BYU senior running back Squally Canada decided not to talk to the media.
But that doesn’t mean he stays quiet.
Canada has written and released several rap songs on Soundcloud, including “Stand Us,” for which he is planning to create a video in July.
“It’s going good,” he said June 22 of his budding music career during BYU’s media day.
Why did Canada decline interviews during the spring?
“I’m trying to keep everything in-house,” he said. “Last year, I did a lot of talking and things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. I just kept my mouth shut and didn’t do any interviews.”
The night before media day, Canada's mother called him and told him, “This is your senior year. You’ve got to do media day.”
So Canada showed up at the BYU Broadcasting Building and answered questions — because of his mom.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder is the most experienced running back on the roster and was the leading rusher in 2017, having run 120 times for 710 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. He gained 213 yards on the ground in a victory at UNLV, the 10th-best single-game rushing performance in school history.
But Canada wasn’t satisfied with what he accomplished a year ago.
“I was really close but I only had more than 12 carries in five games,” he said. “I exceeded some people’s expectations. Some people didn’t think I wasn’t going to get 500 yards.”
What are his expectations for this season?
“To win every single game we play. That’s the mindset I have,” Canada said. “As far as personal aspirations, I’m keeping those personal.”
Former Cougar star Jamaal Williams, BYU’s all-time leading rusher, believes Canada will enjoy a breakout season in 2018.
“Squally’s a great player. He can do it. I believe in him. He’s got speed and power and he’s getting better," Williams said. "He’s trying to get his hair to look like mine. I have no doubt this year will be a great year for him. I expect over 1,000 (yards) this year.”
Canada said he’s been focused on improving his game during the offseason.
“Spring went well for me. Going into fall camp, I want to work on my game as a running back without the ball in my hand — run blocking, pass blocking. If I can take my game to the next level, it’s going to put me over the top and help out the team. That’s what I’m working on.”
More than anything, Canada wants to finish his BYU career on a high note.
“It’s a double motivation for me. It’s my last year of football at Brigham Young. It might be my last year of football. The NFL might not work out. I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I’m treating it as it’s my last year of football ever. A lot of players are doing extra work. To see that fire and passion in other players makes you want to go harder. That’s our motivation, to make sure we don’t have another 4-9 season.”
If the NFL doesn’t work out for Canada, he plans to continue pursuing his music career and attending music school “so I can make the music I really want to make,” he said.
Canada has been cultivating his creative side through music since he was a kid.
“I used to write love poems for my friend to his girlfriend. She was so in love with him because she thought he was so good at writing. It was me the whole time,” he said. “In sixth grade I started writing raps. In eighth grade, my mom bought me a laptop and my sister bought me a podcast microphone. I made my own beats and my own raps … I’ve been rapping ever since.”8 comments on this story
What does Canada rap about?
“I’m not cussing or talking about anything bad. I’m talking about real-life situations and my goals and aspirations. I’m talking about the passing of my cousin and where I want to be in my life. After I leave BYU, my music may change. I may dip into something more rock-rap. I like that type of stuff. Once I get a fan base, they may hate me because I’m going to change my whole style.”
For now, Canada is hoping to make sweet music on the field for his senior season in Provo.