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Hamilton Tiger-Cats top draft pick reflects on time with Dinos

By Christie Melhorn, June 22 2017 — 

Nine Dinos football players were drafted into the Canadian Football League this spring — a record for the most players selected from the U of C. Defensive end Connor McGough was taken fourth overall as the top pick of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

McGough stood out during his time at the University of Calgary. He was named to the Canada West Football All-Star Team in 2014 and 2016 — the latter year, he started in every game of the season and led the team in yards gained from tackles.

McGough said the professionalism of Dinos culture prepared him to enter the major leagues.  

“The Dinos are a professional establishment. Professionality is expected on the field. They expect you to know all the details and all the potential outcomes of a game,” McGough said. “The system used by the Dinos is very translatable to what we use here in the pros. The high expectations that they hold is tremendous and helpful in the long run.”

McGough said the challenges of being a student athlete helped him adjust to the CFL’s fast-pace and high-pressure environment.

“Being a student athlete is a tough thing to juggle but it’s good to have that experience,” McGough said. “In the pros you have to spend as much time in books as you would in university to understand all the concepts. Learning to manage your time and to have proper study habits helped out a lot.”  

As a professional player, McGough said he looks up to fellow Tiger-Cats defensive end John Chick, who was named a CFL All-Star in 2009, 2014 and 2016 — the latter two years paralleling McGough’s Canada West honours. Chick is expected to start most games for Hamilton this year.

“John Chick is always working hard. He’s always pushing others to be great. He’s not a loud individual. He leads by example,” McGough said. “I don’t believe in being loud. It’s easy to talk but what means more is an individual who shows up each and every day on the field — John is one of those guys.”

Despite his exciting transition into the CFL, McGough makes sure to honour where he started as a player.

“Every football team works as a family. It’s awesome to come from a family back home in Medicine Hat and in Calgary. Even being in the pros, you always have your roots. The Dinos family will always be a part of who I am,” McGough said.

When asked for words of wisdom for current Dinos athletes, McGough said a strong work ethic and living in the now is key.

“Doesn’t matter what your situation is in life, you’re always given the opportunity to better yourself in life or in football,” he said. “You have every second to do better than you did that second before — always keep striving to be better.”

The Tiger-Cats also drafted Dinos offensive linesmen Braden Schram 13th overall. Hamilton will play their first game of the 2017 season on June 25 against the Toronto Argonauts.

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