Most young football players don’t dream of being offensive linemen.
After all, it’s a position that doesn’t always get much recognition — generally only getting noticed when they commit a holding penalty to wipe out a positive play or they fail to keep the pass rush at bay, resulting in a quarterback sack.
And Anthony Daley was no different, dreaming of being the one toting the football, not the player up front helping create a running lane for someone else.
But with his burgeoning size, he found himself playing along both the offensive and defensive lines.
And with junior football on the horizon, Daley was told to concentrate on one side of the ball and that the offensive line was likely his best option to succeed.
“For the longest time, I wanted to be a fullback; that was my dream position,” Daley admits now.
“I wasn’t happy at first, but I ended up making the switch and it has turned out well and taken me to where I am now.”
And the decision to play along the offensive line is proving to be a good move.
The 22-year-old Daley is a stalwart along the Langley Rams offensive line as the team’s centre.
He was one of head coach Jeff Alamolhoda’s first recruits as the Rams’ head coach, heading west from Winnipeg to join the B.C. Football Conference team.
“Everything I believe is a core value for a football player, Anthony Daley has it,” Alamolhoda said.
“He has been a core foundation of our offensive line and a big part of the success the last four years.
“He didn’t have the intention of coming out here just to make himself great, he had the intention of coming out here and being part of a team and making that team great. And he has.”
Daley was the team’s right tackle in 2011 and moved to centre the following season.
He would win the BCFC’s top offensive lineman award as well as earn both league and all-Canadian all-star status in both 2012 and 2013.
His reign as the league’s top lineman ended last year as he missed about half the season with an ankle injury.
Defensive lineman Alex Agnoletto has lined up against Daley in practice since they both joined the Rams in 2011.
“He is just a big nasty guy and he brings it every single play — practice or game — and you have to be on your toes,” Agnoletto said.
“(Anthony) is always going 100 per cent and trying to make everyone around him better. You have to be ready to go when you are up against him.
Daley, who is six-foot-two and 310 pounds, relishes his role, which requires not only blocking and pass protection, but also recognizing what protection scheme he needs to call for his fellow linemen.
And there is no secret to his success.
“I hear it from other people, and it is probably my work ethic,” Daley said about what he hears.
“I know I am driven. I just want to work hard and be humble and be the best I can be at what I am doing.”
The work ethic is from his parents.
“They drove that into me from day one — work hard and don’t take things for granted.”
Despite his work ethic and his drive to succeed, Daley admits he has exceeded his own expectations.
“I think I can do anything I put my mind to, but if you had asked me when I started my junior career, I wouldn’t have thought where I am now,” he said.
And where he is now is practising with the B.C. Lions for the past three seasons during the days as a non-counting junior player.
He doesn’t get paid — he is an amateur athlete — but is getting valuable experience and tutelage for what he hopes is a professional career.
“(Anthony) has shown he can compete at this level, albeit at practice,” said Neil McEvoy, the Lions director of football operations and player personnel.
Daley also played in both pre-season games for the Lions before the regular season.
“He was not overwhelmed by any stretch of the imagination, playing against real, professional athletes,” McEvoy said.
“He is a young guy who still has learning and development to do, but so far, he has passed all his tests. There is no reason he won’t continue to develop and get better.”
Daley is also relishing the chance to hone and develop his craft with professional players.
“The guys have been great and really taught me a lot,” Daley said.
“Being around (the team), it has made me so much smarter, so much more aware of what is going on around me, being able to read defences and predicting what people are doing and being exposed to that, I feel has taught me a heck of a lot.”
With his junior football career done after this year, Daley is hoping to catch on with the Lions, who hold his territorial rights until Dec. 31.
If not, he will look to play university football.