McIntyre looking for big second season in CFL |

McIntyre looking for big second season in CFL

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

November 15, 2009; Hamilton, ON, CANADA; BC Lions defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-27 in overtime in the East Semi Final at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Mandatory Credit/Copyright John E. Sokolowski

Garrett McIntyre is excited to move into his second season in the Canadian Football League.

Although the former South Tahoe High football player started nine games for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and recorded a quarterback sack in a playoff game against British Columbia, there was a frustrating two-month period to his 2009 rookie season. A lingering hamstring injury kept McIntyre out of nine games and prevented from the American import from making the impact he envisioned.

“I have a couple of bangs and bruises … nothing serious,” said McIntyre on Tuesday, three days before the Tiger-Cats’ season opener at Winnipeg. “I’m happy to be healthy, and that’s what I asked for going into training camp.

“This is where all the work I’ve done the last six to seven months, it’s time to show it off. I’m expecting a big year for myself if I can stay healthy.”

Training camps never get any easier, even for a player like McIntyre, who has been through boot camps with STHS, Fresno State, the Arizona Cardinals, the Tennessee Titans, San Jose SaberCats before coming to Hamilton last season.

“It’s the worst two weeks of football a year that we have to go through, but it’s part of the season,” said McIntyre, the 2005 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. “It’s tiring and repetitive. There’s nothing that you can do in the offseason that can get you used to all the banging and stuff.”

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While healthy last season, McIntyre made 19 tackles, including three for losses; a quarterback sack; and a fumble recovery. The 2002 STHS graduate is determined to build on his rookie season.

“From last season I learned about the CFL game in general,” McIntyre said. “For example, what different types of offenses teams run, what offenses are trying to do schematically instead of playing on the run. I can anticipate things and make presnap reads.

“I can understand what does work and what doesn’t.”

Hamilton defensive coordinator Greg Marshall will include McIntyre in a rotation of defensive ends. Even though McIntyre is listed as the backup to Khari Long of Baylor on the depth chart, playing time isn’t a concern.

“It’s the same thing that we were doing last year. There are three defensive ends who will rotate in and out, and that way we’ll always have guys fresh.”

McIntyre embraces the importance of the role he serves for the TiCats.

“The pressure on the QB is huge in controlling field position and controlling the game’s pace,” he said. “When we can bring fresh guys off the edge, we can get pressure on the quarterback, and to have three good ends that we can use, it’s a great thing.”

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound has always brought high energy and intensity to the teams he’s represented.

“Garrett brings a lot of energy, he’s a physical guy … He’s kind of like our energizer bunny,” Marshall said.

“He gets in there and stirs it up and creates a lot of opportunities, not only for himself but for other players.

“We’re just looking for him to bring that on a consistent basis, and I don’t have any doubt that he will.”

As noticeable as McIntyre is on the field, Hamilton’s fan base is learning that the former Fresno State star is even more gregarious off the field. McIntyre broke up the monotony of training camp by volunteering to provide video coverage of his teammates’ camp experiences for the team’s Web site

“I don’t have a problem speaking in front of people, or being in front of a camera,” McIntyre said. “I enjoy doing things like that. I don’t mind bringing entertainment to the fans.”

McIntyre already realizes how much the Tiger-Cats mean to the people of Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats have won 15 Grey Cups – more than any other CFL franchise – in their 141-year team history.

“This is their league, and it’s a big deal to be in this league up here,” McIntyre said. “There is lots of support from our community, so it’s pretty cool.”

And a few perks, too.

McIntyre and his teammates have free access to several Hamilton golf courses – an opportunity that the defensive lineman was planning to take advantage of on Wednesday.

On Friday, McIntyre and his Tiger-Cats’ teammates will begin a quest to improve on last season’s 9-9 record and first-round playoff exit.

“We’re definitely a better team this year,” McIntyre said. “A lot of guys have been in the CFL for two seasons now and know the game well. We’ve meshed well together and become good units, and we’ve brought in a couple of new guys to add some depth.

“We’re looking good, and now we just have to go on the field and prove it.”

McIntyre has some unfinished business north of the border, too, and hasn’t given up his dream of making an NFL team.

“This is a big year. The window is closing for me age-wise. I probably have another two or three years to try and get back down,” the 25-year-old said. “If not, I can see myself playing for another five or six years if my body allows it.”

And if his body allows him to reach potential, who knows what McIntyre may accomplish? “I would like to leave the game on my own terms instead of me getting cut and me not having it,” McIntyre said. “I think I’m just getting into my prime, and I feel I have a few good years in me.”