May 17, 2023

Hogan: The Youngest Argo is Making an Impression

Most 21-year-old football players are in university, perhaps preparing for their senior season. Others, who may have redshirted as a freshman, are entering their junior year.

Qwan’tez Stiggers is not your normal 21-year-old.

His road to Toronto from Atlanta has been a rough one; featuring no college experience and a catastrophic car accident that claimed the life of his father.

“It was a real hard thing because I have several younger brothers,” Stiggers told Argonauts.ca after Tuesday’s practice. “I have sisters, now I have a baby, so I’m taking my little brothers under my wing and showing them right from wrong and keeping them out of the mix, because where I’m from it’s just like a war, so keeping them busy in sports and out of the street means a lot to me.”

Remember, Qwan’tez Stiggers is only 21.

A defensive back, he finished high school in 2020. He had committed to Wayne College, but when his father was killed, Stiggers returned home and stopped playing the game he loved.

In 2022 he had an opportunity to play in the Fan Controlled Football League (FCF), which led to his CFL opportunity.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Stiggers. “It’s a really good experience, especially the vets have taken me under their wing. Right now, I’m acting like a sponge, the game is really new to me. I don’t have that much football experience, but the guys around me, they’re very positive about taking me under their wing.”

His positional coach with the Argos is also positive about the rookie.

“He’s a football player,” Defensive Backs Coach Joshua Bell told Argonauts.ca. “You see a gladiator of the arena. He’s made to play the sport. He has an amazing foundation; great skill, great technique, great patience, and he’s a sponge with everything we say.”

CFL coaches are used to teaching players who have a minimum of at least three or four years of college experience. That’s not the case with Stiggers, but the coach does not think that’s problematic in the slightest.

“I don’t see a challenge,” said Bell matter-of-factly. “Maybe if there is one it’s personal, because we’re apprehensive about overloading him with information; but he can actually absorb so much. He’s absorbing stuff we’re coaching to other positions, but he understands it, locks in on it and remembers it.”

Right now, the 6’0”, 197-pound Stiggers is playing some cornerback while also learning to play on every special team. Bell sees his protégé as someone who down the road could play five of the six spots in the secondary because of his physicality and discipline.

That discipline is something the rookie learned in the FCF.

“That’s when I first started watching film,” he admitted. “It helped me get my name out there, I appreciate that league.”

At just 20 years old, Stiggers was the youngest player in the FCF. That didn’t stop him from leading the league with five interceptions, a trio of which came in one game.

He was recommended to the Argos by his FCF head coach, John Jenkins, who was an assistant in Toronto in 1997-98 and again in 2001.

Stiggers is now in his second pro football experience, again surrounded by teammates, some of whom are more than a decade older than he is. That doesn’t faze him one bit.

“There’s a big age gap, but it doesn’t matter to me; they’re here just like I’m here, I’m here to ball just like them. Competition is competition no matter what the age is.”

The young man is making an impression at training camp, and certainly has a lot of friends and family cheering for him.

After going through some terrible times in his life he’s still taken a positive approach, saying “Even though you’re in darkness, the sun’s got to come up.”