A mile high in Colorado, Grant Kraemer worked out almost daily during the spring in preparation to possibly be drafted by a National Football League team.
Kraemer went through rigorous sessions to further improve his stock to hopefully put himself in position to have his named called.
Kraemer wasn’t taken by any of the 32 NFL teams. He wasn’t signed as an undrafted free agent, either.
Following the setback, things began to appear a bit bleak for the former Glendale Community College quarterback. However, Kraemer wouldn’t relent. He figured there might be some other options.
During Memorial Day weekend, Kraemer was with his family in Palm Springs. Having just left Palm Springs en route to his home in the San Fernando Valley, Kraemer received an unexpected phone call — from Canada.
The call came from the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Kraemer, who played at Drake University and earned a degree in marketing in December. “The Lions had heard about me and wanted to give me a tryout. It was so amazing.
“I went home that night from Palm Springs and they told me they’d get back to me with more details. A couple of days later, I was on a flight to Kamloops (British Columbia) Then I was at their training facility working out for them.”
Kraemer, who spent the 2015 season at Glendale college, still had plenty to prove to the Lions coaching staff. He was all business while looking to make the Vancouver-based squad, one of nine teams in the professional league formed in 1958.
“You’re grateful just to have an opportunity to prove yourself; that’s what it was all about,” Kraemer, 23, said. “I came here to work hard and prove myself to the Lions that i can do the job.
“I knew I had a lot to learn. A lot to digest. I had to know a new playbook and learn how different the game is played here compared to in the United States.”
The 6-foot-3-inch Kraemer, a right-hander, made an impact with the Lions’ squad after engineering a late-scoring drive during an exhibition game against the visiting Calgary Stampeders on June 7.
The third quarterback in the game for the Lions, Kraemer tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to Wayne Moore in the final minute of the fourth quarter to give British Columbia the 38-36 victory. Kraemer completed six of eight passes for 145 yards.
“It was just exciting to be there at the end of the game and lead a drive like that,” said Kraemer, who graduated from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High. “I thought maybe I’d be able to stick with the team and they let me know I made the squad.
“You see things somewhat differently in the CFL. It’s a league that provides more opportunities to pass because the end zones are 20 yards long. You have 12 players on the field, compared to 11 in the United States.”
Kraemer’s effort impressed first-year BC coach DeVone Claybrooks:.
“He’s got some moxie. To come in an adverse situation, there wasn’t any panic in his voice, he went through his reads,” Claybrooks told Lethbridgenewsnow.com. “Kudos to the kid for performing in a pressure situation and showing up.”“
BC began its season at home Saturday with a 33-23 defeat against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Kraemer, who threw for 71 touchdowns and passed for 7,722 yards in 32 contests at Drake, will be the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart. Mike Reilly is the team’s starting quarterback after signing as a free agent in the offseason. Reilly tossed 30 touchdowns and passed for 5,562 yards last season with the Edmonton Eskimos and has thrown for more than 5,000 yards each of the past three seasons.
Glendale coach John Rome said Kraemer will be a good fit for the Lions.
“First of all, he’s a great kid and I’m so happy for him,” Rome said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better player and he’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever worked with.
“He’s such a great competitor and he was successful in the classroom. I think he’s going to do very well up there in the CFL. Good for him.”
In his one season at Glendale, Kraemer completed 64 of 126 passes for 1,010 yards and eight touchdowns before sustaining a broken arm in the middle of the season with the Vaqueros before transferring to Drake in Des Moines, Iowa.