Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario featured a very mobile quarterback when Harry Varty used to spend his afternoons after middle school watching the local high school practice.
Varty, a local sixth grader, watched with wide eyes as Trinity’s quarterback deftly rolled out of the pocket in the face of defensive pressure, extending the play with his legs before dropping a 40-yard dot down the field to a wide receiver. It was a throw that Varty said most guys in the Canadian game wouldn’t have dreamed about making.
While he may have been a quarterback then, he’s now the star wide receiver at Pitt. Jared Wayne has come a long way since his time at Trinity, but he’s made sure to always remember his roots and give back to those in the community — including Varty.
“I’ve known Jared since 2016,” Varty told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I’ve kinda looked up to him as a little bit of an idol, and he’s kind of been a mentor to me in the whole football recruiting process and just learning the game. He’s been a great figure for me to learn the American game and just really get exposure and all that.”
Wayne spent some time back in Peterborough, Ontario over the weekend, meeting up with Varty and a couple of local guys for some football talk. Wayne is perhaps the best example the local kids could’ve asked for, hearing first-hand how a college player not that much older than themselves traversed the situation.
Varty, however, was able to take it a step further. Varty and Wayne spent an hour and half throwing together, and it was the perfect chance to prove to himself and Wayne that he can make the throws needed at the next level. Having Wayne as his wide receiver, who knows when and where a pass should be, was an invaluable learning experience — both on and off the field.
Jared Wayne giving back to the community in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario 🇨🇦
A man of character & an inspiration to future generations! 👏🗝️🗝️
#H2P #Peterborough #payitforward #workworks pic.twitter.com/DjSpvCREQ5
— KF Football Academy (@KFFootball) May 13, 2022
The pipeline of native Canadians making the jump to major college football has gotten stronger in recent years, with players like Chase Claypool, Chubba Hubbard and John Metchie all being drafted into the NFL, and Varty feels Wayne’s own impact will have a lasting effect in the Ontario area.
“I think it’ll motivate a lot of kids and show them that it is possible to make it to their goals of playing Divison I football from Canada,” Varty said. “And I think Jared is a great role model for them, and myself, to show that it is possible with a lot of hard work. I think he’s really going to make progress in creating a path in Canada.”
Varty, who played for Trinity in 2021, is making a jump to the United States himself. In leaving Trinity, he’ll be headed to Connecticut to play for St. Thomas More School in Montville, Connecticut and reclassifying as a recruit in the class of 2024 — giving himself two seasons of US high school football.
“It’s promising for me so far, and it’s just a great journey,” Varty said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had so far, and I’m excited for next year to play down in the states. It’s always been a goal of mine to play Friday Night Lights football, and I’m just excited to see what I can do and what I can showcase to the world.”
With the goal of being a college quarterback, Varty wants to be able to acclimate to the style of play required at the college level, and while he hasn’t received much college interest yet, he’s focused on making it onto college coaches’ radars.
With the hopes to show a precise arm and the ability to put the ball anywhere across the field, in a 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame that’s still able to scramble to pick up additional yardage, Varty hopes to show a dual-threat ability. Varty and Wayne have already talked about the jump from Canada to the US — sharing the similarity of being one-time high school quarterbacks.
“We’ve talked a lot about reading the defense in the US game, and how it is slightly different from Canada and the different defense and how they affect your reads and progressions in the game,” Varty said.
With the chance to spend two seasons as St. Thomas More’s quarterback, Varty will be able to adapt to the game in the United States and prepare for the next level of football, and it wouldn’t be possible without someone like Wayne.
“It’s really great,” Varty said. “It’s nice to see that it is a possible path for people from Canada who have, and I’m hoping I can help others who have that same path in making it down into the states from Canada just to kind of open up that doorway.”
The motivation of seeing a childhood idol, who picked up an offer from Pitt after starting at Trinity and seen success at Pitt now, is real. And Wayne himself has offered advice every step of the way.
“He’s talked to me a lot about putting yourself out there, always being competitive everywhere you go and to really stand as soon as possible with whatever you can — whether that’s numbers, skills, size, anything you possibly can,” Varty said.
Varty and Wayne will both be playing in the United States in 2022, and while Varty will be spending his junior season fighting for a college football chance, Wayne will be fighting for an NFL chance. But at the end of the day, they’re both still just kids from Canada with a dream to play football.