This job’s a snap: Fredericton native Dan McCullough, who was with the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions as a long snapper and specialty teams player last season, reports to training camp June 7 in Abbotsford, B.C.
McCullough plans to be back in CFL

By Bill Hunt

Dan McCullough cut his teeth as a professional football player with the B.C. Lions last year.

This season, he'd like to really sink them into a spot with the Canadian Football League club.

McCullough, the 26-year-old Fredericton native who went from the defensive line at Fredericton High School to an all-star career at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level with the Bishops Gaiters of Lennoxville, Que., will soon begin his sophomore season with the Lions.

He reports to training camp in Abbotsford, B.C., June 7 with an eye toward building on a rookie season.

"Personally, I wasn't happy with my season," said the six-foot-three, 243-pounder. "That's the kind of football player I am ... I'm never really completely satisfied with myself."

McCullough said he had an "up-and-down" season as the club's long snapper and specialty teams player - no pun intended.

"It was kind of a roller-coaster ride," he said. "I started out pretty well. But it's such a long season that it takes a toll on you. I wasn't used to that at all. But I learned a lot of things. And I'll use those learning experiences this year."

One example, he said, will be "taking better care of my body.

"I was working out enough, but it was maintenance stuff. I'll have to get into the facilities and get into the ice tubs and do more stretching and stuff like that."

McCullough was content to make the club last year.

"Just to play at the professional level is such a thrill," he said. -Now I want to get a little better and make some more plays and become more of a role player."

That, of course, is up to the Lions.

"I'm ready to do whatever they ask," he said. "If they want me to just snap, if they want me to play special teams, or defensive end, linebacker. I'm ready to step in and do whatever."

McCullough called it a "huge step" from the CIS level, where he played four seasons and played in two East-West bowls, to the CFL.

"In college, you'd have a few guys who were big and strong and fast," he said. "The thing about the CFL is, everyone is big and strong and fast. Everyone is a top-notch athlete. You've got to go 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time."

McCullough is too busy looking ahead to take time to look back on the journey from "The Jungle-" the field at FHS, where he played four dominating seasons on the defensive line with the Black Kats. From there he went to Champlain College, a Quebec CEGEP, and from there to neighbouring Bishops.

He wasn't drafted, but was picked up by the Lions in the CFL's supplemental draft.

"I followed the draft on the Internet and I didn't get drafted, so I was kind of bummed," he remembered. "So my roommate and I headed to Ottawa to help (the) coach do some recruiting for Bishops. I got a call on my cell phone from Neil McAvoy, the player personnel guy. And I was just ecstatic then."

But McCullough doesn't dwell on the unlikely journey from high school ball in the east to pro ball on the west.

"I've never really sat back and said 'Oh wow, I've come a long way,' " he said. "I'm just 'Here's where I am and here's where I need to be.' The biggest thing my university coach told me was 'The minute you become satisfied and content, that's when you fall off.' So you can never be satisfied. You can always be better."


Below:1996 Fredericton South PeeWee Rough Riders-Dan McCullough #75-Age 13