A five-minute YouTube video was enough to make quarterback Alex Tanney an overnight sensation for displaying his uncanny accuracy.
Tanney created a big buzz last year in the self-titled ”Trick Shot Quarterback” video by showing he can hit a receiver in a moving vehicle and throw footballs from across the court and swish them into basketball nets. He even banged a pass off the crossbar of an upright from 50 yards out – from his knees.
Now the Division III Monmouth College (Ill.) product will provide the Buffalo Bills a firsthand look to see whether he has a future in the NFL. After being passed up in the draft last weekend, Tanney has accepted an invitation to take part in the Bills’ three-day rookie minicamp that opens 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 said by phone this week. ”And now I have that in Buffalo, so I’m anxious to get out there and compete for a spot.”
Turns out, the Bills weren’t the only team interested in the 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback who set an NCAA record with 157 touchdown passes over a five-year career with the Fighting Scots.
Tanney initially agreed to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie camp, but changed his mind after Buffalo extended an invite.
He made the switch because he felt Buffalo was a better fit. Noting that Bills were among the first teams to contact him this offseason, Tanney added that he’s spoken to Buffalo’s new quarterback coach David Lee on several occasions.
He’s also aware that the team’s No. 3 position is unfilled behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Tyler Thigpen.
If one thing’s for certain, Tanner’s accuracy shouldn’t be an issue.
In the video, Tanney bounces a pass off the floor into a trash barrel. He even threads a pass blind from the floor of the gymnasium up through a hallway and into a trash barrel on the floor of the school’s adjacent running track.
The video has received more than 1.1 million hits since Tanney and his friends posted it in February 2011, and led to him attracting national attention.
Tanney showed off his throwing ability while featured on an episode of ”Stan Lee’s Superhumans” on the History Channel. It also led to numerous television interviews, including ones in Japan, Israel, Argentina and Chile.
Tanney would rather play down his YouTube popularity and instead focus on what he did on the field.
”The success and the numbers I put up speak for themselves rather than the YouTube video,” he said. ”But obviously, that’s what people are going to talk about.”
In 47 games, he completed 68.6 percent of his passes going 1,205 for 1,756 with only 30 interceptions. He threw for 300 yards 32 times and finished with a Division III record 14,249 yards passing. Add it up, by NFL standards, Tanney finished with a 115.8 passer rating.
And yet, he accepts his instant celebrity.
”We really didn’t expect it to take off like it did. It kind of blew up,” Tanney said. ”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.”
The son of a longtime football coach, Tanney has been a quarterback since he started playing. He figures he was overlooked by Division I programs because he played for a tiny high school that had only 170 students.
And though he was hoping to be drafted, Tanney understood the possibility was unlikely.
That makes him even more driven to succeed.
”I’ve had a chip on my shoulder basically throughout high school, college, coming from small schools and wanting to prove to people what I have,” Tanney said. ”I’m anxious to get out to Buffalo and see what I can do there.”