For Mbi Tanyi, practice squad deal with Calgary Stampeders is a chance he couldn’t miss

Quarterback Peyton Ramsey scrambles down the field while defensive lineman Mbi Tanyi gives chase during Maryland’s 34-32 loss to Indiana at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 10, 2018. (Courtesy of Sam House/Indiana Daily Student)

Once NFL minicamp opportunities came and went, and it became clear Mbi Tanyi wouldn’t be joining a professional franchise in the months immediately following his graduation from the University of Maryland, the former Terps defensive lineman knew he couldn’t sit idly by.

So Tanyi began working as a youth counselor in Bethesda, continuing a path he started as an intern with the National Center for Children and Families in Washington, D.C., while he was still a student.

Tanyi never stopped working out, though. Nor did he forget about the promise the Calgary Stampeders gave him in June, when the CFL team expressed interest in adding the 6-foot-2, 283-pound defensive lineman to its expanded practice squad roster months later.

Tanyi has never been to Canada, but that didn’t deter him from taking an opportunity when Calgary presented one, joining the Stampeders’ expanded practice squad in the hopes of finding a more secure position with them in the near future. His agent, Stephen Ferber, confirmed Monday that Tanyi had signed a practice roster agreement.

While Calgary may be out of the way, chances only come so often. Tanyi is not of a mind to miss them.

“This sport is important to so much of my life,” Tanyi said. “I owe it to the game, you know? My education, a lot of wisdom that I’ve received in my life came from playing football. I just want to continue to play this game for as long as I can, as long as I’m healthy.”

[Read more: Hard work has gotten Mbi Tanyi this far. Now, he hopes it can take him to the NFL.]

Tanyi battled through injuries during his time in College Park, including two torn labrums that limited his production in his first two seasons. But when healthy in 2017 and 2018, he appeared in 24 games and tallied 56 tackles.

That output didn’t earn him a spot at the NFL Combine. But at Maryland’s Pro Day in March, the Stampeders took notice of Tanyi. And around the time the Houston native was participating in NFL minicamps, Calgary reached out regarding an expanded practice squad opening down the road.

That plan came to fruition Monday.

“They saw my Pro Day, they saw my film, and I believe that was enough for them,” Tanyi said. “I’ve never been to Canada, I’ve never worked out with the team. … It’s a new experience.”

Tanyi will have 30 days to work out with the team, Ferber said, and the Stampeders will have the chance to convert his contract into an active roster role or a more stable practice roster spot during that time.

Boasting a 9-4 record, Calgary is in first place in the CFL West Division and has clinched a spot in the playoffs. Tanyi doesn’t know how long he’ll have with the Stampeders, nor does he know if the team’s coaches will prefer him as a defensive tackle or an edge rusher.

But at this point, position doesn’t matter. Location doesn’t, either. Tanyi is thankful for any chance to play the sport he loves.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be able to continue my football career,” Tanyi said. “Just trying to get up there, earn a spot, and play for as long as I can.”

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