By his own words, Cody Fajardo is far from reaching his potential. At 30, the new Montreal Alouettes quarterback arrives in the city with a smile from ear to ear. He wants to win, relaunch his career… and eat good Italian food.

Fajardo was at his home in Reno, Nevada, during the videoconference organized by La Presse. The Californian wore a gray sports jacket and a navy-colored Alouettes cap. “I just got it in the mail, I really like it,” he says, bending the paddle with both hands like a father at his kids’ soccer game on Sunday morning.

A loyal and lifelong lover of the Los Angeles Angels, Fajardo is happy to have a little red in his wardrobe, other than his childhood team jerseys. “I’m happy because the blue looks like my university. Since I was 6 years old, I have never played in a red uniform. »

Relaxed, tongue-in-cheek and visibly still thrilled to have agreed with the Alouettes, Fajardo could become the darling of Montreal fans. Not only through his prowess on the pitch, but also through his talkativeness, curiosity and freshness.

During the interview, the author of these lines was seated at the IGA stadium. The sound of tennis balls in the background excited Fajardo. ” I play tennis ! I watch it sometimes at night, but I really like playing it! I just received a new racket for Christmas. It snowed a lot here, so I couldn’t try it. Are there any nice courses in Montreal? I haven’t played pickleball anymore, is it popular in Montreal? »

This sincere interest in his new living environment was reflected in the majority of his responses.

The Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts were the top two teams on his list. His priority was to end up in a formation where he would be the starting quarterback in the first game of the season.

“After a tougher year, you can’t sit around waiting for a team to desperately call you to pick up the pieces. When your reputation is affected, you want to play as soon as possible. It was important for me to forget the bad shots and be ready from the first week. »

Last year, the Saskatchewan Roughriders got off to a flying start with 4 wins in their first 5 games, but they lost 11 in their last 13, including 7 in a row.

For him, Montreal is synonymous with a new beginning. He is convinced that he joined a talented team, but that he bet on a city with the capacity to make him and his family happy again.

“There are so many shops, I think my wife can’t wait to be there. There are also very good restaurants. I want to learn French precisely to understand what I order! There is cuisine from all over the world, it’s wonderful, says the follower of Italian dishes. You’re going to need to send me your best addresses! »

Fajardo describes himself as a “solid” and “unorthodox” quarterback.

Truth be told, he’s pretty reckless: “I’m not a quarterback who will just pass from his pocket. I’m going to run and dive with the shoulders first to get an extra yard. I play every game as if it were my last. »

Last season, he finished second among Canadian league quarterbacks in rushing yards.

He is aware of this: “In the past, I tried to do too much. This is where the errors arise. However, he waited too long for his turn to “avoid trouble, favor the easy option, or protect [himself] all the time.”

He waited four seasons before getting his first start, in 2019. “I leave everything on the pitch, like it’s my last game every time. »

Moreover, he promises Alouettes fans that the best is yet to come. “I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential. I’m excited to show it to Alouettes fans and league people. »

He wants, he says, “to be taken seriously.”

Fajardo had never lost contact with his former coach in Regina, Jason Maas. The new Alouettes pilot was a crucial element in convincing the quarterback to agree with the Sparrows.

“We’ve been through so much together. We won a lot of games, made it to the Western Finals and missed the playoffs,” said the 6-foot-2, 223-pound athlete.

Maas’ name came up many times during the interview.

By knowing his system, his tastes and his patterns, Fajarado believes he is leaving with a head start, since he will be able to focus on something else as soon as training camp opens. “I’ll be able to focus on my technique, the videos, and getting to know the guys. These are very important details,” the quarterback said of his coach.

Coach who, it seems, also excels at pickleball. “He’s a huge fan!” We tried to play together in Regina, but I didn’t have my racket, except that I’m sure I’ll bring it to Montreal if there are courts, “says the veteran.

Fajardo smiled throughout the interview. In particular because, according to him, the future is bright for the Alouettes: “It’s not a reconstruction, he assures. Looking at our line-up, we really have a talented team. I think we will surprise a lot of people. In my opinion, we will be very competitive. »

All the history surrounding the change of ownership, the involvement of the League, the stakes around the presidency and the financial problems of the team never worried him. He trusted the general manager, whom he nicknamed Danny Mac, and the Canadian League.

With Pierre Karl Péladeau as owner, the organization can finally look forward, he believes: “Listening to the press conference, even though the majority was in French and I didn’t understand anything, I could feel its energy. We have a new owner, a new coach and a new quarterback. If we are able to translate this optimism on the pitch, we will win a lot of games at the start of the season. »

In the shorter term, Fajardo was also feverish for his alma mater, the University of Nevada, opening March Madness. He was going to watch the game in the evening, because “everyone is excited in Reno”.

The Wolf Pack ultimately lost to the Arizona State Sun Devils. Either way, in his pool he predicted a final between Alabama and Houston. “When you play at home, like Houston, you have a huge advantage. »

He will no doubt hope to confirm this assertion on the ground at the Percival-Molson stadium. Until then, he should move into his new Montreal home in a few weeks.

Right before shutting down his computer, at the last second, Fajardo insisted on one last thing: “Don’t forget to send me your restaurant list!” »