BYU football’s Squally Canada turning tragedy into motivation

Ari Davis
Running back Squally Canada scores a fourth quarter touchdown against Toledo on Sep. 30, 2016. (Ari Davis)

BYU football’s Squally Canada has had his share of challenges these past few months but the junior running back is using those trials as motivation for success this season.

The day before the spring football game on March 25, Canada’s cousin was murdered. His mother broke the news to him the day of the game, and the impact on Canada was profound.

“I remember the first month, I didn’t want to talk to anybody,” he said. “I didn’t want to be around anybody. I didn’t even want to work out. I told my mom I don’t even know if I want to be in Utah anymore. And then she told me, ‘Your cousin wouldn’t want you to sit down and not do anything.'”

Canada’s cousin went to last season’s Poinsettia Bowl game in San Diego, where BYU defeated Wyoming. Canada recalled how happy and excited his cousin was to finally see him play. Thinking about that day caused Canada to realize his cousin would want him to do great things. Because of that experience, Canada said, “Alright, I’m going to work my tail off every chance that I get. I’m not going hold it back. I’m going to do it for him.”

A few weeks after the bowl game, Canada’s close friend was shot two times in the back but survived. This event helped drive home the motivation in Canada to do better and be better. “I’ve got to do something positive for my friends and family because there is so much negativity going on back home in California,” he said. “So I’m going to do it.”

In order to be able to live up to his goals for himself, Squally has been putting in the work. He said he is focusing on “catching out the back field, working on my routes, catching the ball better, seeing a hole and exploding through the hole when it’s there, path protection, making sure I get a great center of balance, making sure my punch, my initiation is strong.”

That seems like a long list of talents to improve upon, but Canada explained how he is working to accomplish it all.

“What I’m doing each day is I break it down and work on something extra that I need to fix, but something that I’m really focused on now is just cardio,” Canada said. “I don’t know how the season is going to go, so far we don’t know who is going to be that guy, but in my mind set, I’m that guy. So if they decide to name me the starter, I wanna make sure that I am able to go in there and I’m going to be conditioned for the fourth quarter and run teams out.”

Canada also said his close relationship with last year’s star running back, Jamaal Williams, has been influential.

“I looked up to (Williams),” Canada said. “He was the one that led us and now I’m the guy that they look up to and ask me the plays and everything, so it’s definitely weird, I definitely miss him.”

Although Canada misses Williams, he isn’t buying into the mentality that he has huge shoes to fill. Instead, he says he is focusing on making sure he becomes the best player and person he can be for the team.  

One thing that will help Canada accomplish this goal is his confidence.

“Last year I didn’t have any confidence; I was nervous,” Canada said. “Now, I feel like I have way more confidence underneath me and I am ready to get out there and make plays with the team.”

Canada knows his team is not short on talent when it comes to running backs. He acknowledged the specific skills each one possesses and how they can contribute to the team’s success.

This upcoming season, Canada will use the trials he endured earlier this year and give it his all. “I want to go make sure we go out there and we win as many games as possible and just have fun,” he said.

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