UBC Thunderbirds receiver Trey Kellogg has made his mark as a freshman with the defending Vanier Cup champions. (RICHARD LAM/UBC ATHLETICS) / PNG
Even though he can’t remember it at all, Calgary-area native Trey Kellogg watched his first big football game at B.C. Place Stadium.
“I’ve seen that picture, I think I was like two years old at the time,” the freshman receiver with the UBC Thunderbirds said with a laugh when it’s pointed out this newspaper’s photo archive contains an image of him as a toddler, kicking a football off a tee as his dad, then-Calgary Stampeders cornerback Jackie Kellogg, smiles during festivities for the 1999 Grey Cup held in Vancouver.
Well, that little kid now stands 6-3 and weighs 175 pounds, and in his return to the city this season as a dynamic freshman receiver with the UBC Thunderbirds, Kellogg is starting to play in some big games himself, including Friday’s home clash at Thunderbird Stadium (6 p.m.) when UBC faces the Manitoba Bisons, both with 2-2 records.
“This kid is the exact prototype receiver that you look for,” said UBC head coach Blake Nill. “He’s long and lanky, has good speed and he’s competitive. I’ve seen kids go down south on full scholarships who don’t have the same skill set as Trey. I know it’s subjective, but we’re fortunate to have him.”
Calgary Stampeders Jackie Kellogg watches his son Trey kick the ball on the field at B.C. Place Stadium on Nov. 27, 1999 during an open practice before the Grey Cup.
That has been especially true the past few weeks as a combination of injuries within its vaunted pass-catching core, including Alex Morrison (broken arm), and a lack of depth in the team’s defensive secondary has forced Nill’s hand, causing him to make some difficult snap-by-snap decisions.
Last week, in the team’s 62-0 win at Alberta, UBC played a substantial portion of the game with running back/receiver Marcus Davis and wide receiver Trivel Pinto doubling in the defensive secondary.
The experiment was a rousing success. T-Birds receivers Marshall Cook and Will Watson each stepped up with huge games, Cook equalling a school single-game record with three touchdown catches. And Kellogg, who got his most targets yet, caught his first touchdown pass in blue-and-gold, an 18-yard strike from quarterback Michael O’Connor.
Nill wouldn’t reveal if Davis and Pinto would be taking defensive snaps Friday because a shoulder injury is likely to scratch receiver David Mann from the lineup.
“The key is that we have to find ways to win games,” said Nill, whose team begins the second half of conference regular-season play having beaten no one other than last-place Alberta (0-4).
“We will try and find a way to win by sharing the load responsibility. Sometimes a player has to go above and beyond what is normally required and Marcus and Trivel did that. It’s very likely we’re going to have to do it again.”
The ripple effect has Kellogg working himself into an ever-increasing role of responsibility.
“Coming in this year, and looking at the roster, it was pretty full with good backups,” said Kellogg. “I knew it was going to be tough. Honestly, I didn’t think I would see the field too much. Unfortunately there have been injuries so I am just trying to do the best I can.”
And that skill set which Nill earlier referenced?
Kellogg’s seems pretty rare. There is height, there is a long stride and there is above-average reach. But there is also a heightened sense of what it takes to play the game, having grown up around his dad.
“Playing at his level, my dad knows what it takes to get there and he’s been such a huge influence on how to do things to be a successful person,” Kellogg says.
And there is one other aspect of the Kellogg resumé that has been key.
While it’s certainly not unheard of for a high school quarterback to transition to a receiver spot in university, Kellogg wasn’t just any ordinary pivot.
At Foothills Composite last season, he set an Alberta high school championship game record across all tiers by passing for 343 yards as his Panthers won the provincial Tier 2 title.
“I have always seen myself as a receiver,” said Kellogg, who really only played the position the summer after his Grade 10 year for Team Alberta. “I just always played quarterback because it was the best thing for the team. Then coming to UBC, with Mike here at quarterback, it’s been eye-opening. He is one of the best and he makes it so easy.”
BIRD BITS — UBC will step back in time for its game against Manitoba. Flashback Friday is an opportunity for fans to wear garb from the 1980s and ’90s. A number of food items at the game will reflect times with an extensive $2 menu.