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Dinwiddie still waiting for a shot

Ryan Dinwiddie isn’t unpacking his bags. Not yet, at least.

The former Boise State star quarterback, released by Montreal of the Canadian Football League last weekend, is waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for another team north of the border to call with another opportunity. Waiting for his shot.

“I think I can play 10 to 12 years in the arena league or the Canadian league. It’s not about the money. It’s about playing. If I could get by, have a house and still play, that would be great. I like being a little kid,” Dinwiddie said. “There’s other things out there that I can do, but I want to play as long as I can.”

But Dinwiddie can’t find anyone who will let him.

It’s been nearly 30 months since Dinwiddie wrapped up the most successful college career of any Bronco, his name still atop many of the school’s offensive records. In 2003, he won WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors and set an NCAA record for passing efficiency.

Since then, he’s discovered the hard way that most professional leagues don’t covet 6-foot-1 quarterbacks with questionable arm strength -- no matter how impressive their collegiate numbers. He’s bounced around the NFL, NFL Europe and Canada, rarely sniffing the field.

The Arena Football League, the one league where Dinwiddie’s accuracy would truly be a benefit, keeps calling. But Dinwiddie wants to prove himself. The arena league, in some ways, would be accepting what the critics have always said about his lack of arm strength.

"I kind of want to stay away from that," he said. "The CFL, I thought it was an opportunity to show NFL teams that I could make the throws. With the bigger field you have to make longer throws."

But he couldn't stick with Montreal, which signed former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter to compete with several other quarterbacks during training camp. Dinwiddie was grateful that the Alouettes gave him his walking papers now, allowing him a chance to catch on with another team.

The professional struggles haven't sapped Dinwiddie's spirit, but they have given the 25-year-old some perspective. He returned to Boise State this spring to attend classes. He is now just one semester shy of earning his degree in social science. The classwork that he shunned the first time around has taken on a new importance.

"I wasn't too motivated when I was playing football. All I wanted to do was play football, but I can't waste time anymore," he said.

The degree, Dinwiddie knows, will help him in any post-football future, especially if he opts to go into coaching. His former coaches, Chris Petersen and Dan Hawkins, have talked to him about it. So, too, has Fresno State coach Pat Hill.

"I could get into coaching little kids and if I'm going to stress the importance of school, then I have to get it done," Dinwiddie said.

He's doing more than talking a good game. This spring, as he attended classes, Dinwiddie also worked as a quarterback tutor for 10-year-old Boise resident Josh Jardine. The two met twice a week for hour-long sessions in which Dinwiddie taught his young student footwork and passing drills.

Other lessons took hold.

"The physical training and all that stuff as far as the quarterback skills were terrific. But the motivational side and what he taught my son about being a leader was just as important, if not more. That's what I really valued," said Jerry Jardine, Josh's father.

"What he did with Joshua can change kids' lives. Thirty years from now when Joshua is long past football and working in a job, he'll forget football but he'll always remember his time with Ryan. Those things change lives. He has a natural gift for working with kids."

The experience was a positive one for Dinwiddie, too. With his name recognition in the Treasure Valley, there certainly could be a quarterback academy or camp springing up in the future. And Boise is expected to have an arenafootball2 team next spring.

Could this be the destination Dinwiddie has been seeking all along?

"I've looked into having a facility here. Do something with my dad possibly, a little sports club for kids. Get good role models around here and help kids reach their goals," he said.

"It'd be good around here. Something that I could do and live here at the same time. Have a stable place to live and Boise's where it's at. Find something stable where I could put my feet down."

Surely there are more Josh Jardines scampering around town. Young Boise kids who witness Dinwiddie's Bronco greatness first-hand or have spent years listening to their fathers talk about it.

"I was so excited to hear that I was going to play with such a good quarterback," Josh said.

That excitement and nervousness eventually abated. The two created a friendship, and now Josh can't wait for football season to begin in August.

"I think it's really going to help me, the stuff he told me to do," Josh said.

By then, Dinwiddie just might have found a place to unpack those bags.

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