Grant McAdam spent the majority of last season riding the pine for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team.
This year, the defensive lineman has turned into one of the team’s premier players.
McAdam’s coaches believe the second year, who leads all Blues linemen with three sacks and twelve tackles, is only starting to realize his enormous potential.
“Once he gets to the point where he’s not thinking, he’s just reacting, he has very high potential,” said Greg Gary, the Blues’ head coach. “He has the potential to be a high-level starter in the CIS, and long term, he could even be an all-star.”
Despite his abilities and praise from his coach, the Northern Secondary School product remains modest, passing on the opportunity to boast about his strengths on the field.
Celebrations are not McAdam’s cup of tea either.
“I don’t have a sack dance,” McAdam said in an interview Tuesday night following practice at Varsity Stadium. “I usually just go with a fist pump. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates. Without my teammates I wouldn’t have any sacks, so I usually celebrate with them.”
Asked what he would do if he ever recorded a touchdown, the Toronto native laughed and said he wouldn’t know where to start.
As an economics and international relations student at the University of Toronto, McAdam is well-suited to balance the rigorous football schedule with his school commitments.
He estimates that over 30 hours per week are devoted to football. With so much time dedicated to athletics, time management is key to staying on track.
“You just have to allocate the time properly and not waste it on stupid stuff,” McAdam said. “Staying on top of your readings is important and not getting behind is the main thing.”
The defensive lineman first put on pads and a helmet in his freshman year at Northern, and immediately took to it.
There is no family history when it comes to playing, but McAdam was around football growing up, frequenting Toronto Argonauts games as a youngster.
“On my mom’s side, my aunts are involved with the Argos,” McAdam said. “They’re part of the Friends of the Argonauts. They’re heavily involved with the Argonauts, so I went to a bunch of CFL games when I was young but other than that, there are no family members that played or anything.”
McAdam credits much of his development as a defensive force to instruction he received from several of the former Argonauts he grew up watching.
“They’re great coaches, I’ve definitely learned a lot,” said McAdam. “They’re like player coaches, they can relate to players easily because [Kevin] Eiben played recently.
“Same with [Jordan] Younger and [Anthony] Cannon. They’re all good guys, good coaches and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
After dressing for only one game in 2013, McAdam returned to the team in incredible shape, spending time in the summer training with Adrian Lightowler, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
“I had a really good offseason with the strength coach here,” McAdam said. “Under [Lightowler’s] program I found I got faster and stronger. There’s a speed component, and he’s big on conditioning.
“There are some plyometrics involved and overall it’s a good, well-rounded program. It’s been working out for me.”
Coach Gary has been very impressed with what he’s seen from his defensive end after completing the program.
“The biggest improvement has been his strength and conditioning,” Gary said. “He showed up every morning and he did his work. He did a great job with that and I think it’s been a benefit to him.”