He’s listed at 5’9’, though he may have been on skates when that measurement was taken. That doesn’t mean that Deonta McMahon hasn’t been extremely visible at Toronto Argonauts training camp.
The running back was a relatively late addition to the roster, signing with the Double Blue on May 3 after he wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft. The Argos signing him may have been a bit of a surprise to some, as running back is far from a need position with the team. Andrew Harris, A.J. Ouellette, Dan Adeboboye and Javon Leake are already here and are all regulars in the lineup.
That doesn’t mean McMahon is not getting attention.
“When you watch him move when the ball is snapped, it’s like everybody else slows down,” Argos Running Backs Coach Edwin Harrison told Argonauts.ca after Thursday’s practice. “When he gets it, he’s at a completely different speed than everybody else. He’s been very exciting to watch.”
McMahon was a star at McNeese State, where he rushed for 1,408 yards last season, averaging a ridiculous 7.4 yards per carry en route to being named the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
In his final three games at McNeese he rushed for 211, 197 and 239 yards.
The native of Frostproof, Florida is salivating at the chance of playing on the bigger Canadian field.
“It’s definitely to my liking,” he told Argonauts.ca. “Being a shiftier guy, a faster guy, I feel like this is a great fit for me and I can excel in this game.”
Also being used as a returner, McMahon also loves the concept of the halo, giving him a chance to bring back every punt.
While his offensive skills are obvious, it’s his work when he doesn’t have the ball that will inevitably make or break his career as a pro. If you can’t protect your quarterback, your days as a CFL running back are numbered.
“What I really like about his blocking; he’s not that big, he doesn’t have long arms, but he is a scrappy dude,” said Harrison. “He’s going to get in there, he’s going to fight you tooth and nail, he’s going to put his face in blocks, he doesn’t mind using his hands. To be as small as he is, he really does a pretty impressive job blocking because he doesn’t mind fighting, no matter how big they are.”
While his blocking ability will impress the coaches, it’s McMahon’s obvious rushing ability that will catch the eye of fans.
There’s no doubt the new Argo has a high skill level. There are jobs on the line and training camp has been highly competitive. Despite that, there’s an off-field camaraderie developing between the rookie and the veteran backs, a fact much appreciated by McMahon.
“I’ve got vets ahead of me; A.J. (Ouellette) and Andrew (Harris), man, I love those guys. I go to them and ask them a question and they’ll tell me right on the spot. It’s all love, honestly. I’m just a rook and trying to understand the game a little better and they’re giving knowledge.”
The offense spent much of Thursday’s second session working on the red zone package. Chad Kelly set the tone on the first play by tossing a perfect 15-yard back shoulder pass to DaVaris Daniels, who caught it right at the pylon…Ben Holmes had perhaps his best day to date, throwing TD pass to Lonnie Moore IV, Quian Williams, Dejon Brissett and Javon Leake, among others…SAM linebacker Adarius Pickett was very noticeable on this day. His combination of skill and enthusiasm will be a welcomed addition…Kurleigh Gittens Jr. had people holding their breath as he dove for a Kelly pass at the back of the end zone, skidding onto the running track that surrounds the field. After getting his arm bandaged, he went directly to Kelly and the pair calmly talked about the route…Damonte Coxie practiced for the first day and made the session’s most spectacular grab, elevating over a defensive back to make a TD catch…Cam Phillips brought out the oohs and ahs from his teammates after making a sensational move in the end zone during a one-on-one red zone drill…It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but the Argos have handed out No. 16 to someone almost as small as Brandon Banks, who wore that number last year. Banks is 5’7”, 150 pounds. Rookie receiver Savaughn Magnaye-Jones from Western is 5’9”, 160…Friday’s practice has been changed to a light walkthrough as Head Coach Ryan Dinwiddie wanted to give the players a lighter day after a productive first few days. Saturday and Sunday’s practice time is the same each day; stretching and warmups at 9:00, practice from 9:55-12:20. The annual Blue/White game is set for Monday afternoon at 4:00. Admission is free for all practices and the scrimmage. Fans are invited to attend each session at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.