Over recent years, there has been a large growth of talent in the city of Ottawa, and all of Canada within the game of football. There are so many reasons as to why there has been a growth of talent, and many would argue it is because of the coaching, facilities and investments people have put forward for the game of football. A perfect example of exactly that would come with current Penn State University quarterback Christian Veilleux from Orléans, Ontario just outside of Ottawa.
Veilleux first picked up the football after watching Peyton Manning with his dad, and it didn’t take long before he fell in love with the game. “Ever since I started to watch, or play it I always loved football.” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “My dad was a big Peyton Manning fan so watching him so much I got brainwashed. It was easy to look up to him as a player and then from there I just kept playing football with friends, eventually more competitively and kept getting better too.”
Playing early on with the Cumberland Panthers, Christian Veilleux’s name was a big one around Ottawa. People within the football community, and even outside of it knew that number eleven for the Panthers was going to make it in the game of football, but it wasn’t easy for him to do so. He had to put in the work. And fortunately for him, coach Victor Tedondo was right there by his side to help put in the work and guide him for all things football as well as things off of the field. Tedondo, at Gridiron Academy has done some phenomenal things in the city of Ottawa. He has not only become one of the bigger names in the city as a football coach, but also a mentor for young football players in Ottawa off of the field as well. Prior to Veilleux, he coached Ottawa raised quarterback Michael O’Connor, who is now with the B.C Lions but also spent time across the border for football and was a phenom at UBC with the Thunderbirds. With O’Connor having gone through the Gridiron Academy experience already as a quarterback, having Veilleux training with Gridiron was a very familiar situation for Victor Tedondo, and it ended up preparing him to play at the next level much earlier than some would have thought.
His first offer came in grade 9 from the University of Buffalo, and once he made the move across the border to attend school and play football offers just kept rolling in. He first played at Canisius High School in Buffalo and then played at Bullis in Maryland. “It was a big sacrifice,” Veilleux said, “going across the border, leaving my home to follow the dream was a big move and I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t do that.”
Where he is today is at Penn State University, currently the second string quarterback for the Big 10 school. He goes into his second season with the Nittany Lions this fall, and will look to make his presence felt on campus and on the football field after throwing for 235 yards and 3 scores in a game against Rutgers in 2021 where he proved his ability to play at the division one level. The game against Rutgers was the first one he had played since 2019 since his senior year of high school didn’t have a season due to the pandemic and was an overall dream come true for Veilleux. He commented, “It was surreal. I was extremely happy and excited all game and all day after the game. The reason why I came into the game was because Sean (Clifford, the starter) was sick, but really a lot of us were, including myself so I was surprised I could play that well considering my fever and stuff, but to be able to go ahead, put some confidence into the team and play the game, it was awesome. I got back to what I love to do, it felt like I had my groove back. I felt at home again.” Outside of some snaps in the bowl game against Arkansas, that Rutgers game was the only one Veilleux had any significant action in as a freshman, but more action should be on the way for him. The way he played as a freshman proved he could play at that level, and only previewed what could be coming to the Nittany Lions for the future. Veilleux himself is looking forward to the moment that he can play to his full potential at Penn State. “I’m looking forward to making my impact.” he said.
Sure, as the quarterback of any football team, no matter the level, you are bound to make a big impact no matter how you play. You can leave a good, or a bad impact on your team and other teams around yours directly. For Christian Veilleux he looks to make an impact in a good way for his team on the football field, but also would like to make an impact off of the field for his hometown of Ottawa, Canada.
Often times he reminisces on the journey he took to get to where he is today at Penn State and thinks about all of the other athletes from Ottawa that have the ability to play football at a high level. “There are a lot of hidden gems in Ottawa.” he says, “A lot of guys can play football, its just not easy for a lot of them to take all of the steps necessary to make it to a high level. In Ottawa there’s some things missing that if they were brought in, could make a big difference and I want to give back to the city. I want to be able to do my part to help the next group of football players in Ottawa get to the next level, from getting better, or more facilities around the city to the guidance needed to make the steps in football, I want to help and make an impact.”
Off of the football field, alongside his willingness to give back Veilleux also has the goal of starting and owning his own business one day, and is interested in investing. With the right goals on and off of the football field, it is clear that Christian Veilleux, the football player, person and the brand will be successful down the road.