Photo courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
Bryan Schor’s football journey is unconventional. After committing to Miami (OH), Schor’s scholarship was rescinded when the RedHawks made a coaching change. The gunslinger went to Lackawanna College — impressed teams — transferred to JMU, sat behind Vad Lee and eventually became the most decorated passer in program history. That’s the short version of a long story.
Schor’s story added a few chapters once the quarterback walked across the graduation stage in May of 2018. After earning his diploma, the JMU alumnus received a Chicago Bears’ mini-camp. The 2018 NFC North champions and Schor didn’t ever connect for a roster spot, and he started to feel fatigue from the amount of football he’d played the past few years. From two consecutive seasons going into January to Pro Day to Bears mini camp, Schor felt the mental and physical toll.
“I felt like I had been playing for, I don’t know, maybe 15 years and never got the chance to think about like, ‘OK, what do I want to do with my future? Where do I want to be?’” Schor said. “All those little quarter-life crisis [thoughts] kids coming out of college have.”
For the first time in years, Schor took a break. He accepted a job with McGriff Insurance in Northern Virginia and tried to tackle the 9-5 lifestyle.
“I got a really good job, and I like the people that I work with,” Schor said. “But there was still something that was kind of missing.”
Enter the Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With something missing, Schor searched for a job he was more passionate about. During that process, he received a call from his agent, who told him the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wanted to sign Schor to a one-year deal with an option for a second season.
Winnipeg, which finished 2018 with a 10-8 record in the Canadian Football League, has held Schor’s CFL rights since after his junior season at JMU. Initially, Schor was hesitant about taking the team up on their offer and moving from Northern Virginia to a location about 225 miles north of Fargo, North Dakota. But after thinking it through and realizing he might not get many more chances to play professionally, Schor decided to take the leap and join a talented QB room.
The Blue Bombers enter the 2019 season with good depth at the position. The team’s three leading passers from 2018 — six players attempted a pass last year — all return in 2019, according to the team’s current roster. Matt Nichols led the squad with 3,146 passing yards, while dual-threat Chris Streveler added 1,134 passing yards, 441 rushing yards and 21 total TDs.
Schor isn’t expected to be immediately thrust into major playing time, but he’ll have a chance to prove himself in the league. With significant starting experience at the collegiate level, good mobility and an accurate arm, Schor does add value and depth to the team. His role remains uncertain, but Schor said he’s just focused on helping the team win when he arrives. Schor said he doesn’t think about what will come after his time in the CFL, and he isn’t focused on using the league as a stepping stone to making an NFL roster.
“I’ve learned in the last couple years that sometimes making a plan B isn’t always the greatest thing,” Schor said. “If you’re thinking about plan B, you’re taking away from the thoughts you could be putting toward plan A.”
Motivated by Former Teammates
Watching his former teammates succeed in the professional ranks gave Schor the extra push to join the CFL.
Former JMU cornerback Jimmy Moreland has generated significant NFL Draft buzz in recent months. Former Dukes Ishmael Hyman and Andrew Ankrah are getting snaps for the Orlando Apollos, who are the talk of the AAF. Several other former Dukes including Daniel Brown and Rashard Davis find themselves on NFL rosters. With many of his former teammates making waves in professional football, Schor’s itch to get back to the game grew stronger.
“It excites me, I’m happy to see those guys succeed,” Schor said. “In a way, that’s definitely been a part of getting me back to football. I get to see Ish dancing when he scores a touchdown or something like that. It’s just exciting to see, and it’s something I just want to get back to.”
With his JMU teammates motivating him and a professional contract signed, Schor is excited to join the ranks of Dukes in the pros.
A Story of Persistence
Schor’s football journey has been anything but easy. From having a scholarship offer revoked to working his way to an FCS school only to sit behind a stud quarterback in Vad Lee, Schor’s name wasn’t one many JMU fans knew early in his career. But he kept working.
Persistence helped him earn the starting quarterback job over a highly-touted transfer in Connor Mitch in the 2016-17 season. Persistence helped him go 27-2 as a starting quarterback in his final two seasons as a Duke. Persistence helped him battle back from a late-season injury in 2016 and lead his team to a national championship. Persistence helped him earn a mini camp opportunity with the Chicago Bears.
“What’s made me different isn’t that I’m more talented than anybody else or more skilled or anything like that,” Schor said. “It’s just been the fact that I haven’t given up on it. I had a lot of things come my way, and I’m not the toughest guy ever, I’m not the smartest guy ever, but I was persistent. A lot of things haven’t gone the way I wanted them to, but instead of just deciding not to do it anymore, I just found another way.”
Now, he’ll draw on his persistence one more time.
“And so that’s kind of the same mentality I have for this,” Schor continued. “If it doesn’t work out at Winnipeg, I’ll find another way back. And if it doesn’t work at that spot, I’ll find another way back.”
With Schor’s persistence comes a respect and admiration for the people he met and the fans that supported him at JMU. While he won’t be rocking purple and gold at Winnipeg, Schor will keep JMU close to his heart throughout his professional career.
“I was able to have a lot of success at JMU, and I loved it when I was there,” Schor said. “I left, and I felt like I should be doing something with football. I got so much from JMU — I put in a lot there — and I feel like I owe it to people and I owe it to myself to go out there and play the game I’ve loved for the last 15 years.”