After Record-Setting Career for PU Football, Kanoff Heading to Camp for Arizona Cardinals
LETTING IT FLY: Chad Kanoff lofts a pass for the Arizona Cardinals during a training session this spring. The former star Princeton University quarterback signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent and is starting training camp with the team this week in Glendale, Ariz. (Photo Courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals)
By Bill Alden
When the Arizona Cardinals chose talented but volatile UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen with the 10th pick in the NFL Draft this spring, it ensured a closely-watched battle at the high-profile position.
With the franchise having previously signed NFL veterans Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in the wake of the retirement of longtime starter Carson Palmer, there didn’t seem to be room for another QB.
Yet hours after the draft ended in late April, former Princeton University star quarterback Chad Kanoff signed with the team.
While it may not seem to be the ideal scenario, Kanoff is happy to have landed with the Cardinals.
“It is a great fit. You want coaches to believe in you and their coaches believe in me,” said Kanoff, who is starting training camp with the team this week in Glendale, Ariz.
“I may be the fourth quarterback, but they treat me like all of their quarterbacks. I am getting help, I am getting better each day. I would say it is a great situation.”
Kanoff got better and better over the course of his Princeton career, ending up setting a slew of records during his senior season. Last fall, the 6’4, 219-pound native of Pacific Palisades, Calif. set the Ivy League record with both 3,474 passing yards and a 73.2 completion percentage. He broke the Princeton single-season record for passing touchdowns (29), and set the program record for career passing yards (7,510). Kanoff won the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the 2017 Ivy League Football Offensive Player of the Year and earned the William Winston Roper Trophy as Princeton’s Outstanding Senior Male Athlete.
“It was a great year, as was every year I was there, but this year was particularly good on offense for me but certainly somewhat frustrating, since we didn’t win the Ivy League,” said Kanoff, reflecting on the 2017 season which saw Princeton go 5-5 overall and 2-5 Ivy.
Looking back at his time at Princeton, Kanoff enjoyed great growth on and off the field.
“It is hard to even think about myself as an 18-year-old and the thoughts that are going through your head then and now,” said Kanoff with a chuckle.
“I got a lot out of my experience from a school perspective obviously. I got a lot more academic, I started liking school more. Socially, I have a lot of great friends from all different parts of the country as opposed to high school where all of my friends were from California. It was pretty cool to meet people from all over the country and then figuring out what I want to do and that is play football.”
Two weeks after the Princeton season ended last November, Kanoff turned his focus to preparing to make the jump to pro football.
“Since we ran all shot gun at Princeton, it was getting under center and throwing an NFL ball, that was the biggest thing and then doing the drills and the 40,” said Kanoff.
“I didn’t go to the combine but you still do the same drills. I went to this combine facility in LA called Sports Academy where they train a bunch of guys for the first two weeks of January. I would work out the whole day and then go home and work on my thesis.”
In March, Kanoff displayed the fruits of that labor at the 2018 Princeton Pro Day, held inside the bubble over Powers Field.
“I thought I did OK; it is so subjective,” said Kanoff, who clocked a 4.91 time in the 40-yard dash with a vertical jump of 32’0.5 and a broad jump of 9’3. “I was happy with it in terms of the running and jumping. I didn’t blow anybody away, but I am never going to blow anybody away.”
Heading into the NFL Draft, which took place from April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Kanoff believed he might get selected.
“I thought there was a chance, my agent was talking to some teams,” said Kanoff.
“It didn’t happen, but it is about controlling what you can control; the draft is not one of those things that you can. I am just happy to be on a team. I didn’t have to try out, I was able to sign right after the draft.”
Kanoff was happy to get on the field for OTAs (Organized Team Activities) this spring with the Cardinals.
“It is really fun, you get to play with guys you have been watching on TV your whole life,” said Kanoff.
“It is cool throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. He is one of the best ever to do it. Even if I don’t get to be a QB in NFL, I don’t know how many guys get to play with a Hall of Famer.”
Being around NFL veteran QBs along with the highly touted Rosen has helped Kanoff home in on details of playing the position at the next level.
“It is more pro style stuff, something I haven’t done,” said Kanoff, noting that Cardinal quarterback coach is Byron Leftwich, who played 10 years in the league.
“Josh had played in a pro-style offense and Sam has been on the NFL for a while. So it is things I need to learn to do like play action, where you put your head, getting away from the center, doing the right seven step drops. It is basic stuff, I am improving on that and getting better.”
Having graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Kanoff is utilizing his study skills to grasp the team’s offensive system.
“I am learning the playbook; I have not mastered it,” said Kanoff, who has been using a virtual reality device to get a better sense of how to read NFL defenses.
“I know all of the plays now. I have to get used to calling the plays, that is a big thing. It is getting to the point where when you call a play, you know exactly what is going on, no doubt.”
While Kanoff may be a long shot to stick with the Cardinals, he is determined to make a good impression as he starts practice this Saturday.
“I am inwardly motivated; whatever position I am on the depth chart, I am going to try to be the best player I can be,” said Kanoff, who is one of three Princeton players currently on an NFL roster with defensive lineman Caraun Reid ‘14 having signed with the Indianapolis Colts and tight end Seth DeValve ’16 heading into his third season for the Cleveland Browns.
“That is all I am focusing on. Time will tell if I make the team. Every chance I get to show myself, I will.”
No matter what happens at camp, Kanoff sees this as a chance of a lifetime.
“When I came to Princeton, it was always a dream of mine to play in the NFL,” said Kanoff. “Whether or not I expected it, I don’t know. It is good to have dreams, especially when they come true.”