Former Dawson County Tiger quarterback Zach Buchan signed last week to play football at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Stuart Lang, former Canadian Football League player and recently retired coach of the Guelph Gryphons, made the trip to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame on April 11 to witness Buchan's commitment to the program that is establishing a successful tradition in Canadian collegiate football.
"This year we won the Yates Cup which is our provincial championship. This is a team that had not been winning and had not had a winning record in the last 10 years when we took over. In the last four years we were 7-1. We've been to the provincial championship three times, winning last year. So we have got a good tradition set," Lang said.
Lang coached the Gryphons since 2010 and is a former CFL wide receiver who won five Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos.
Friends and family applauded as Buchan signed the paperwork and talked about the road that has led him to this decision.
Buchan initially committed to attend the University of Alberta while at Dawson County High. Instead he attended Kennesaw State last year.
"After the first year at Kennesaw, it just wasn't going in the direction that I'd hoped. It just wasn't a good fit," Buchan said. "I started doing some research up in the Toronto area, up where we used to live and where we still have family and we found the University of Guelph. They just won the Yates Cup up there which is the Ontario championship."
His father is Canadian, which automatically gives Zach Canadian citizenship, so this seemed a logical choice, according to the family.
Buchan's dad, Robert, believes the Gryphons offensive scheme will play to his son's strengths as a quarterback.
"He's going to throw the hell out of the football up there and hope that Coach Emeritus who just stepped down as coach...he can learn something from him," Robert Buchan said.
Lang also believes that Buchan's skill set is a good fit for the developing football program.
"Zach's father, Bob, sent me a highlight video of Zach and I was quite impressed. I was also impressed his nickname was Mariota because we have modeled after the Oregon Ducks. We are really looking forward to Zach doing a great job at Guelph University," Lang said.
"In Canadian football everything revolves around the quarterback. We play with 12 players as opposed to 11. So the emphasis is on spreading things out, having a quarterback who is a dual threat, who can run and throw, and if you look at university championships, the common denominator is that type of dual threat quarterback. So I was quite excited when I got a call sort of out of the blue."
Buchan visited the school at the end of January and immediately loved the historic campus.
Though it's a full day's drive to reach the university from Dawsonville, the Buchans have extended family only 15 minutes away and Buchan says he's already made friends there.
"You know we are thrilled because it's a different chapter of his life. This is something he's passionate about and he's always wanted to do. We plan on going to every game," said mom, Tiffany Buchan.
Buchan suffered a hand injury during his senior season at Dawson County and missed most of the season at quarterback. After surgery and rehab, he says the hand feels even better than before the injury.
He will study mechanical engineering at Guelph.