Larger than life offensive lineman Qadr Spooner caught the eye of CFL scouts at a McGill Football practice who were there to evaluate now-NFL lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff in 2013. It is obvious why. Qadr has a rare presence—he is gregarious, friendly, quick with a joke, and a conspiratorial wink to put you at ease. Add his six foot four inch, 310 lbs frame into the mix and you can understand why scouts were drawn to him.
“Honestly, I am a people person,” Spooner said. “I like to socialize. I like to help people out.”
Spooner puts his people skills to work off the field as a bouncer at Madame Lee and as a social worker at a community centre. On a night out, he keeps the vibe friendly, and the situation under control. During the day, he works with juvenile delinquents, people with autism spectrum disorder, and people trying to find employment.
“As a young person, I had a lot of people that guided me in the right direction,” Spooner said. “I always wanted to pass that on and [community work] really connected with me […so] I chose social work as my major. [In fact] when I committed to McGill, I got in contact with people and they helped me get jobs in this field.”
Like many accomplished athletes, it was Spooner’s mother who kickstarted his football career.
“[Football] is something my mom forced me to be a part of,” Spooner said. “So many benefits came after that—friendships, it helped me focus on school and do better in school; if you got bad marks you got kicked off the team [in high school….] It has just helped my life out so much. It keeps you from doing bad stuff [….] You meet so many great individuals and great peers.”
Now, CFL scouts are bullish on Spooner’s professional prospects. He moves with a speed belying his size. He has a nasty streak on the field that excites coaches and inspires fear in defensive ends. However, Spooner started off his career on the opposite side of the ball.
“[In high school], I was a defensive lineman, and one of my coaches said we needed help on the offensive line, so I got converted,” Spooner explained. “I was like ‘football is football,’ and I immediately excelled greater at that position. [Offensive line] is a great position, it is a team position. You do not always get the credit, but you know how important your role is in the team’s success.”
Spooner also enjoys the camaraderie of the O-Linemen group.
“Honestly, the offensive linemen on [the Redmen team] are the funniest kids,” Spooner said. “They may seem intense at times but they have the softest hearts. It is surprising, especially with how aggressive you have to be to play the position—they are such good guys.”
Spooner is a standout on a McGill squad that is rebuilding. Over the past two years McGill has steadily improved its win record, and Spooner can testify to the culture change that has improved the team.
“If you had seen all the transformation [over the past few years], you would not be able to understand how one coach, [Head Coach Hilaire], can turn a team around from the beginning,” Spooner said. “The staff that he brought in, the new coaches were invested in you and in helping the team get better [….] I cannot really describe [the improvement] in words, you have to see it to understand it.”
For now, Spooner is helping McGill realize their playoff dreams. Spooner also harbours NFL ambitions—he is one of the top CIS prospects—something he is characteristically modest about.
“You just have to stay positive and keep working hard,” Spooner said. “It is a dream, so I hope I can make it.”
There is no doubt many will be rooting for him.
Favourite study spot?
McLennan library—I am there like 24//7. I have spent some late hours there.
What would be your last ever meal?
I am not suppoed to say this, but General Tao Chicken.