Truckee player resurrects career in CFL
Former Truckee High standout David DeCoite heading north of the border to play football
By Sylas Wright
Once upon a time – 1996 to 1999 to be exact – David DeCoite roamed the backfield at Truckee’s Surprise Stadium, laying down merciless licks on opposing football players.
Two years removed from doing that exact same thing at University of Montana’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the 25-year-old Truckee grad will try to continue the trend on a more grand stage: McMahon Stadium, home of the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders.
“I’m young, and I figured I might as well give it another shot before I get too old,” DeCoite said of his football career.
That career was resurrected on April 30 when he signed a contract with the CFL team. DeCoite said his deal, which is guaranteed, is worth about $70,000 a year plus incentives.
“We have signed David to a three year deal,” said Stampeders’ General Manager Jim Barker by E-mail on Wednesday. “He doesn’t show up (on our Web site) yet because his contract just got in today.”
Montana assistant coach Tom Hauck likes DeCoite’s chance of launching a pro football career.
“I think he has a good chance at making it,” Hauck said. “He’s been out a couple years, but this is a good opportunity for him. He’s a good player – a big hitter.”
Most of DeCoite’s big hits at Montana came from the strong safety position, where he earned the Golden Helmet Award his junior and senior seasons for being the heaviest hitter on the team and helped lead the Grizzlies to a Division II national title in 2001.
“He was instrumental when we won the national championship,” Hauck said. “It was interesting to watch him develop into more of a team type of guy. I’m sure in high school he made most of the plays.”
Tough as nails
In high school DeCoite made varsity as a sophomore and played most of his three seasons at free safety and wingback, said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer. He was named Defensive Player of the Year his senior year. He also played quarterback for the final six games after the first four choices were either injured or dismissed from the team. DeCoite also made all-state as a wingback his junior year, when the Wolverines won the 3A state title.
“He is a leader by example,” Shaffer said of his former standout player. “He works very hard, he’s very coachable and he’s one of the best physical players we’ve had here at Truckee.”
Even at 160 to 177 pounds, the weights at which he played his sophomore and senior seasons at Truckee, the kid could pack a hit.
“On his last three steps he would gain momentum and knock your lights out,” Shaffer said. “Boy, he’d smack ya.”
DeCoite continued his hard hitting as a 195- to 200-pound strong safety at Montana, the school that gave him a full-ride scholarship to play with his older brother Dan in 2000 and 2001.
Now at 210 pounds, DeCoite – who played last year in the semi-pro Rocky Mountain Football League in Missoula, his home – said he has the ability to hit even harder, as he is bigger, faster and stronger than ever before.
“With how I hit, it’s better to have a little more weight,” he said.
DeCoite will be making a switch from safety to outside linebacker in Calgary. He’s OK with that.
“I’d rather play safety and get to roam more, but when I get an opportunity like this, I’ll play wherever,” DeCoite said. “Wherever they want me, I’ll give it hell.”
A second chance
Shortly after his senior season at Montana, David DeCoite got married and he and his wife Christy had a child. They named him Darren.
“I had to lay off football and support my family.” He said. “But once my son got a little older (Darren is almost 2), I was able to get out and try it again.”
As for his football instincts?
“They are still there,” he said.
DeCoite’s father Dennis suggested to his son that he attend Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, a six-week training session led by Chip Smith, a world-renowned speed and strength coach and personal trainer of Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher.
With Smith, DeCoite worked out with Urlacher, Marcus Vick, Champ Bailey and other professional football players performing “heavy-duty conditioning.”
DeCoite then sent game film to several Canadian Football League teams. The Calgary Stampeders showed immediate interest, offering DeCoite a flight to its mini camp in late April to compete against 11 other outside linebackers for a spot on the team. The Stampeders were impressed enough to give him the job.
On Friday, DeCoite reports to Calgary’s training camp.
Canadian football vs. The States
As opposed to the NFL and NCAA, which play on fields 120 yards long by 53 and one-third yards wide – that includes the two 10-yard end zones – the Canadian Football League plays on a field that is 150 yards long by 65 yards wide, with two 20-yard end zones.
Other differences are that in the CFL there are only three downs, compared with four in the NFL and NCAA.
And while college and NFL teams field 11 players, the CFL has 12. Instead of a tight end, the CFL employs two “Slot Backs”. On defense, Canadian teams have an additional linebacker or defensive back, depending on the play.
The offensive backfield in the CFL also has unlimited motion. Only the down linemen cannot move. The NFL only allows one player to move parallel to the line of scrimmage. This extra motion allows for a larger play set.
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