October 7, 2017

Hogan’s Quick Hits: Whistles, Hops, and Flops

Mitchell White (12) of the Toronto Argonauts and Stefan Logan (0) of the Montreal Alouettes during the game at BMO Field in Toronto ON, Saturday, September 23, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Springs in Fall

Attention to all CFL receivers, you will not win a jump ball against Argos cornerback Mitchell White.

White arrived here in Toronto last month after previous CFL stops in Montreal and Ottawa, and a training camp tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles this summer.

While White is only 5’11”, not exceptionally tall even for corners these days, the Livonia, Michigan native has a skill that not every DB has – killer hops.

How good was White as a high jumper?

“The highest I got in high school was 6’11”,” he told Argonauts.ca. “Then I got to college and jumped seven (feet) a couple of times, but never got it down when it counted.”

As a high-schooler, White was the Michigan State Champion and a Nike All-American before heading to the NCAA, where at one point he had an Olympic dream.

“I did think like that until I actually went to a real selective meet,” reflected a now broadly smiling White, “Those guys were jumping 7’5” and jumping to like 7’7”, 7’8”.”

He thought he could get to that height himself, but had a decision to make. He could dedicate himself to track or hit the gridiron with the Spartans.

“I knew I had a short window,” he said of his high-jumping career. “I was going to lift weights, I was going to get ready for football. That’s when I knew I loved football because I was very successful naturally at track and field, but I had to work so hard to get a little bit of modest success in football. It just makes you appreciate it more.”

The Argos have been appreciative of his play, particularly a two-interception performance in his Double Blue debut against Montreal.


The Next One

Coming out of the NCAA he was a ‘can’t-miss’ NFL player. Sadly, Trent Richardson missed.

After reaching superstar status at the University of Alabama, running back Trent Richardson was the third-overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. After a decent rookie season, things went south in a hurry. After stops in Oakland and Baltimore, after numerous injuries and a team suspension for missing a walkthrough before an AFC Championship Game, Richardson was out of football.

His career resumes Saturday at BMO Field as he takes the field for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He hasn’t played in two seasons and will have something to prove.

James Wilder Jr. was another high-profile NCAA player who headed north after a couple of years in the NFL, his path much less controversial and far more injury free.

“I don’t want to give too much advice to him until after the game,” joked Wilder, “He might read this, can’t give him too much.”

He then offered up something of substance to the CFL newbie.

“He’s hungry right now,” the former Florida State running back told Argonauts.ca. “Obviously he’s had a struggle. He’s ready to get back and re-invent himself. Just don’t go out there and try to do too much, just go out there and do what he’s been doing his whole life. Don’t overthink it, that can mess you up.”

Marc Trestman has seen many high-profile players head north from the States. Some have been successful, some haven’t. He says there’s a commonality between the ones that make it in the CFL.

“I’m no expert and I don’t want to stand on a pedestal,” emphasized the coach, “What I’ve seen and what I try to implore for guys coming from south of the border…you’ve got to come in here really respecting what you’re getting yourself into, a locker room full of hard-working players that love the game, that are really, really smart and highly competitive in a league that is the same way.”

There was some cautionary advice as well.

“If they come up here thinking that they’ve got it licked because they’re coming from the south, they usually don’t make it,” continued the coach. “It’s the guys who come in and appreciate the game that’s up here, they study it, they’ve already been on YouTube, they’ve already watched the games, they know what kind of league they’re getting themselves into, and they get a better start. Because they get a better start they have a better opportunity and I think those are the guys you see make it.”

That sounds like a pretty expert evaluation.


Posey In DeGroove

DeVier Posey began his second season in Toronto in style. He torched the Ticats in the season opener, hauling in seven catches for 147 yards and a TD.

He was lighting up the league before going down with an injury, which kept him out of the lineup for most of July and August.

Since coming back he had been steady, yet unspectacular, before lighting up the Ticats again – which is never a bad thing for Argo fans – with seven catches last week for 104 yards, a spectacular game-tying TD, and a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

“I’m just feeling healthy,” said Posey, who noted losing ten pounds in the off-season has helped a great deal. “It’s helped. This league is definitely different, the amount of cardio-vascular work that receivers get is through the roof. I think it helps, just late in games, I feel light, I feel like I can run under some balls in the fourth quarter.”

Another difference this year has been Coach Trestman’s impact. After going over some football-specific items, Posey got deeper about what the head coach has meant to him.

“I’m learning a lot about becoming a better husband, a better man, a better teammate,” said Posey, before saying Trestman isn’t the first coach to have that on and off the field impact.

“I’ve had one coach like this once before in my life and his name is Jim Tressel,” the receiver said of his coach at Ohio State. “They both come from the same fundamental, it starts in the mind first, it starts in preparation first, it starts in the mindset. I love learning about that stuff every day. Football is a vehicle to learn life lessons and he’s a great teacher.”


A Different Coaching Tool

Marc Trestman has been an impressive figure as the Argos head coach. His players have bought what he’s been preaching and the team’s progression has been constant and steady.

If you’ve never been to an Argo practice you’ve missed perhaps the most impressive component of his coaching arsenal.

His whistle.

It’s likely not the coaching whistle you’re imagining. Trestman has never had to pay a dime to the Foxcroft family for a plastic, pea-less gadget used by a referee to signal a stoppage in play.

He just whistles.

It’s a shrill, high-pitched screech that is surprisingly loud. No matter what is happening on the practice field, even if there’s music being piped in, the Trestman whistle is immediately identifiable.

“My dad taught me that at a young age,” said Trestman with a boyish grin. When asked to elaborate on the technique, the coach made sure the family secret remained just that.

“I don’t know what the secret is, I could never explain that,” said the coach before adding “I don’t know how I do it.”

Marc Trestman could win a handful of Grey Cups in Toronto, but to those who cover practice, the whistle might be his legacy. It’s that distinctive.