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Alex Tanney

Lexington High School graduate Alex Tanney, shown here during a 2013 preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys, hooked on late this season with the Tennessee Titans. His offseason will include running Tanney Passing Academy camps with his father, Don, including one in Bloomington.

Alex Tanney’s falls have included football for as long as he can remember. Even before he became a standout quarterback at Lexington High School and Monmouth College, Tanney was at practices run by his coaching father, Don.

This past fall arrived as scheduled, but for a big chunk of it there was no football. Tanney’s National Football League career stalled for several months after he was released by Tampa Bay in August.

He kept throwing and lifting weights and conditioning, hopeful of another opportunity in his third NFL season. It finally came in mid-December when Tanney was signed to the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad.

“It was a real long fall,” he said. “I had quite a few workouts. I was flying out to different places every couple of weeks. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You watch football every weekend and you’re seeing guys go down and checking the waiver wire.”

Tanney tried to stay positive. Occasionally it was a challenge. Known for a viral trick-shot video he made at Monmouth, Tanney’s mind began to play tricks. Could his career be over?

“It definitely crosses your mind as the season progresses and no one’s called and no one’s signed you,” he said. “You start thinking things like, ‘Is Canada an option? What happens if I don’t get picked up?’

“But I was in contact with my agent quite a bit. He felt confident we should give it one more year.”

Tanney’s opportunity arose after Tennessee placed quarterback Jake Locker on injured reserve, joining Zach Mettenberger. The Titans signed Jordan Palmer as a backup to Charlie Whitehurst and added Tanney to the practice squad.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tanney spent the final two and a half weeks of the year in Tennessee and was re-signed at season’s end by the Titans, his fifth NFL team.

“It’s good that I got down there at the end of the year,” said Tanney, 27. “It’s really beneficial to spend that last couple of weeks there, just to get a jump start on the playbook and the offense. I’ll have an idea what’s going on when I go back down there.

“It’s a good quarterback room and the head coach (Ken Whisenhunt) is an offensive guy. It’s a great place to be for a quarterback.”

As he has the past two years, Tanney is spending part of his offseason helping train junior high and high school quarterbacks. He has joined his father in running the Tanney Passing Academy.

There will be a camp on Feb. 8 and 15 in Geneseo and another on Feb. 22 and March 1 at Bloomington’s Game Time Gym II.

“It’s the same type of things we've done the past two years,” Tanney said of the instruction. “We’re seeing a lot of repeat campers so we’re trying to implement new stuff and offer those kids more in-depth footwork and accuracy and football IQ work. Hopefully we can keep building on what we give them.”

Last year’s camp at Geneseo attracted about 80 players, while the one in Bloomington drew 60 to 65. For more information and/or to register, go to www.tanneypassingacademy.com.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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