PROVO — BYU running back Squally Canada expressed genuine surprise when presented with the question following Monday's practice session, which could very well signify how true his intent is.
Through interviews with other running backs, and with new running backs coach AJ Steward, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior has been regarded as a true leader for an otherwise young position group. It's a role any senior should take to, even one who is battling hard with those he's imparting wisdom to for playing time this coming season.
"If I see something wrong, then I just try and correct it," Canada humbly said when presented of how his teammates and coaches regard him. "It's the right thing to do because — let's say that I get the starting job, and then I go down and get hurt, there's got to be the next man up. So I don't want the backup in there clueless with me withholding all this information from him."
Indeed Canada is in a battle, despite his senior status and regardless of past performance.
There's freshman Zach Katoa, who arguably had the best spring practice session of anyone this past spring, along with several others, like Beau Hoge and Matt Hadley who have been switched over to take reps. Then there's Riley Burt, who continues to make strides and KJ Hall, who is on the cusp of taking practice reps again coming off ACL surgery.
There's a lot of them, and that's a very good thing, according to Steward.
"I think we want to be as multiple as we can be on offense, so having depth at every position is very important for us," Steward said. "In the spring we came out with a few guys who showed us what they can do, but we feel we need more depth."
Steward defines what he has to coach as, "an embarrassment for riches," and mentioned opportunities to use three running backs at one time, should the opportunity present itself.
"You don't want three guys in your room coaching. You want a lot more so you can put three guys on the field," Steward said.
Currently, there are 10 running backs listed on BYU's roster, with only four of those having logged much playing time. Canada is by far the most experienced of the lot competing for tailback responsibilities, and like most seniors, aims to go out with his best season to date.
For the Washington State transfer, more than a desire to do well for himself, Canada's desire is for the team to rebound from last year's abysmal showing.
"My dad tells me if you have knowledge to share, then you share the knowledge. It's not good to hold back any type of knowledge," Canada said. "Even if it may come back and hurt me, and if guys end up beating me out, then I'm not worried about it. As long as we win more than four games. ...I want to win. That's the most important thing."
Steward has well-noted Canada's desire to help the team, and it's come through the senior's actions, much more than any statements made.
"He's really grown up a lot," Steward said. "And I think he's really assumed the role of leader in our group. I'm very pleased with his maturity and his want-to for our team to be successful."
With regards to those competing with Canada, Katoa currently appears as his top competition, although newcomers like Hoge have shown quite a bit of upside through practice sessions.Comment on this story
"He's all-in and he's an athlete," Steward said of Hoge. "Athletes need to be on the field and our goal is to have the best 11 athletes on the field and he's one of the best athletes on our football team...He's flourished at it so far and he's exceeded expectations so far with how quick he's getting it and the sky's the limit for him."
Again, at least some credit goes to Canada, who was credited by Hoge following the first open fall practice session.
"Like I said, Squally has been great and he's doing whatever he can to help make our position group great," Steward said. "I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to coach him."