Nicholas Rideout is not your prototypical football player. In fact, he really doesn't quite fit the mold of the ideal quarterback either, somewhat undersized for the position, certainly by OFC (Ontario Football Conference) or OUA (Otario University Athletics) standards.
All of which doesn't mean a whole lot to his teammates with the Lively Hawks, who put their complete faith in a signal caller who would lead them to an impressive city championship last fall.
A naturally gifted athlete, Rideout did not search far for the role models that would start his journey that was highlighted, so far, by his selection as SDSSAA Most Outstanding Player in 2017.
"It was my brothers that really got me into it in high school, especially Ben (now 22 years old)," he explained. "He was smaller than me when he was in high school and he played all four years. I really enjoyed watching him."
"Football suited Thomas (19) a little more," Rideout continued. "He was bigger." The trailer of the clan, little brother Nick would have options. He excelled in a competitive environment in both soccer and basketball in his youth, eventually finding his way over to the gridiron battles.
"I started off in Joe Mac (Joe MacDonald Youth Football League) as a running back, then Nathan Rivet (St Charles QB) broke his growth plate, and then (Josh) Wilcox (St Benedict WR) got hurt," Rideout recalled. "I've been stuck at quarterback ever since."
"The first person to touch the ball is not allowed to run (in JMYFL), and I wasn't the greatest at throwing, back then, so I was kind of taken out of the offense, I felt, but that's OK. I did what I needed to do."
Blessed with a natural elusiveness and the quickness to juke opponents in the blink of an eye, Rideout has provided Lively coach Reg Bonin with a running threat since the day he arrived at the home of the Hawks.
From there, his game would evolve. "The toughest, to start, was making the reads for passes," confessed the grade 12 student at Lively District Secondary School. "There's so many different routes going on, you're looking all over the field, and also worrying about the pressure coming into the pocket."
"Really, keeping your head on a swivel, surveying all of the options, seeing what the defense is doing, that's the hardest thing to get used to." His running back skills provided a comfortable cushion for the Houdini-like ball carrier, but it was not a great path to success at higher levels of football.
"Honestly, it was this past year that it really clicked," said Rideout. "Even last year, when I felt any amount of pressure, I would run. I was trying to work on that for a while, Reg would always work with me for the reads."
"(Sudbury Gladiators' coach) Neil Petrin really emphasized to me that I needed to work on finding my quicks outlets rather than scramble with my feet. I started to really study the plays, so I knew where all of my options were."
The key, for Rideout, was striking the proper balance. To take the ball out of his hands completely in the open field would make little to no sense. The talented teen combines an interesting skill-set, one that can force defenders to miss tackles, all while still being completely comfortable running directly through a defensive back of similar or slightly larger size.
"I always have the option to keep it, even on a running play," he said. "Reg always told me that I am generally more athletic than the defensive linemen and linebackers, and that I could likely get around them, even if I make the wrong decision."
Extremely well grounded, Rideout understands that he is hardly the poster-child for Canadian university quarterbacks. "I don't know how I'm feeling about the opportunity to play," he said. "I honestly haven't been talked to by that many people yet."
"I really need to see if that even is an option, but if it is an option, I would definitely have to adjust positions." Football folks will point to cornerback, slotback or wide receiver as areas where the local product might gain a foothold. There are always special teams, such is his ability to dart quickly in and out of traffic.
While he has decided to return to Lively for one more year, just to make sure that he considers all options, Rideout is fully prepared to jump into a post-secondary pathway that would focus entirely on his academic pursuits, interested in criminology and a possible career as a police officer.
"At first, it would be difficult and I would definitely miss it (football)," he said. "But even is it happens to be the (Sudbury) Spartans, just to still have football around would be a good feeling."