Earlier this year, a few hours after the Dogs’ Breakfast, Huskies Safety Bryce McCall got together with his family to watch the CFL draft. McCall was rated in the Top 15 by the CFL Scouting Bureau. After watching his teammates Ben Heenan and Keenan MacDougall get drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Calgary Stampeders, McCall never heard his name called.
The 5’11”, 199 lbs McCall was noticeably upset in the days that followed, but he has since taken on a new, invigorated approach to his last season of CIS football.
“I was pretty disappointed to not hear my name called,” McCall said after last night’s practice. “I thought I did some things that were good, and maybe get a chance somewhere. It didn’t happen and I am actually really excited to be back here.”
“I think that every year I have been motivated to be here and to win a national championship,” he said. “Every year my life revolves around football and I train all year round for the season. There is not any extra motivation to prove CFL teams wrong, my extra motivation this year comes because it is my last season in the CIS. There is only one more chance.”
McCall is widely recognized as the hardest hitting defensive back in the CanadaWest. He is also a ball hawk and is only two interceptions away from breaking the CIS record for most interceptions.
“Bryce has been here a long time and been a starter for a few years now,” said Huskies Defensive Co-ordinator Ed Carleton. “He’s a hard worker and improves every year. He studies hard and knows where to be on the field and that is part of the reason that he has so many interceptions.”
Despite his mean streak on the field, he and former teammate Rylund Hunter purchased a business in the offseason that requires everything but toughness. McCall and Hunter work with kids and parents almost every day with their new venture called Astro Jump Saskatoon.
“We are having fun being our own bosses,” said McCall, who is enrolled in the College of Commerce. “It makes us happy to see the smiles on the kids faces. We are learning as we go, but it was a good summer to start our business careers.”
“Just like football, we have to approach our business very professionally,” he added. “Every day people are watching and knowing what you are doing so we are always trying to be responsible and respectable.”
McCall was injured all of last season, but he didn’t let that get in the way of his playing time as he saw action in every game. “Not many people know how injured he was,” said Carleton. “He played hurt all last year and still had a great season, which points to his determination to compete.”
As a fifth year player, McCall is looked up to by his teammates. The Huskies graduated all three of their starting linebackers, so McCall is being asked to do more with his leadership skills.
“He is an instrumental leader this year, and we are looking for him to step up even more,” said Carleton. “He understands what goes on here and what it takes to be successful. He’s teaching some of the younger guys what it takes to play in the CIS.”
Three practices in to camp, you can see that McCall is ready to play. “Camp has gone well so far,” McCall said. “We are getting better as a group and we have lots of room to grow. It’s going to be awesome to see how some of the new guys mesh with the old guys on the team.”
“We are really trying to focus on the fundamentals right now,” he said. “If we can get the basics down, both the vets and the rookies, then we will be able to build on that and not develop bad habits during the season.”
McCall and the Huskies host the Guelph Gryphons on Friday night at 7:00pm. A pre-game BBQ takes place at 5:00 in the field beside the stadium with the public encouraged to attend. Tickets for the game are now on sale at 966-1111 or online at huskies.usask.ca.