McIntyre to start special teams for Fresno State
Garrett McIntyre, a 2002 South Tahoe High School graduate, suited up and played special teams for the Fresno State University Bulldogs as a true freshman in their first game last Friday at Wisconsin.
Now, as if that honor wasn’t big enough, he will start on special teams against San Diego State on Thursday.
The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
McIntyre, who is listed as a defensive lineman at 6-3, 230 pounds on the Bulldogs’ Web site, walked on to the team earlier this summer.
He wasn’t expected to see playing time until next year.
“The coaches there told me the freshmen never play … it’s quite an honor,” said Monique McIntyre, Garrett’s mom.
Normally freshmen redshirt, but that’s not what the coaching staff at Fresno State are telling McIntyre.
Now, he’s the man.
And then again, McIntyre is no normal redshirt.
The Sierra Division’s Defensive Player of the Year and a Northern Nevada All-Region first-teamer, McIntyre was the Tribune’s Male Athlete of the Year. He was also the only player from South Lake Tahoe selected to play in the Sertoma All-Star Football Classic in Sparks.
Since joining the Bulldogs’ program, he’s put on some weight, and judging by how the coaches are treating him, he’s putting on a stellar show.
The Bulldogs lost their season opener at Wisconsin 23-21, but it’s a game McIntyre won’t soon forget.
“It was definitely crazy … it was a new experience,” he said from Fresno on Tuesday. “Having 75,000 fans standing around you is a great feeling. The most I’ve ever had around me before in Tahoe is maybe 1,000 people.”
McIntyre plays defensive lineman as a core position but suited up as No. 71 as second string for special teams against Wisconsin.
He played several times last Friday after the starter hurt his knee.
“I’m what they call the bus driver. I’m the guy that sets up the wedge for the punt return team,” he said.
In other words, McIntyre is the guy who leads the returner down the field with the blocks.
Does that mean he’s the guy that takes a lot of heat?
“They’re huge,” McIntyre said of the players he’s up against. “The guy that I have to block is not the biggest guy on the kickoff team … but even then the guys that I’m going against are huge.”
Although McIntyre said he and the special teams didn’t have a strong game against Wisconsin, his coaches like the way he played.
“I’m actually No. 1 now,” he said. “I’m starting against San Diego (State) on Thursday.”
Exactly how rare is it to have a true freshman start for a Division I team?
McIntyre doesn’t know, but he could think of only two other freshman who received playing time.
“It’s actually pretty rare, but it’s a good thing for the future,” he said.
As a walk-on, McIntyre didn’t receive any financial incentive to join Fresno State’s program. But he hopes that will change come next semester, when the school can reapportion scholarship money.
McIntyre said he is still considered second or third string defensive tackle.
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