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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
Bill MacDermott, a former CFL and NFL coach with 50 years of experience, led linemen from the Lions and Bengals through a three hour practice last Friday.
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St. Paul Football welcomes renowned Bill MacDermott for special practice

Jun 17, 2014 10:15 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

Linemen from the St. Paul Lions and Bengals got a taste of professional coaching last Friday afternoon, as former NFL and CFL coach Bill MacDermott led a three hour clinic on positional play and proper technique.

“Number one, one thing you’ve got to really be pleased with is the turnout we got today. There were a lot of kids out here that probably didn’t have to be here, but they were here. I like that,” said MacDermott, adding he was impressed by the dedication of the young Lions and Bengals. “The first thing you look for is if it means something to them, and they wouldn’t be here if it didn’t. The other thing is, that was a two and a half-three hour practice, it’s pretty good to stay through that.”

MacDermott has 50 years of experience as a coach at the college and professional levels, spending time on staff with the Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts, Montreal Alouettes, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and San Diego Chargers. Bengals Head Coach Todd Tanasichuk said hosting a guest coach of this caliber was a first for St. Paul Football, and the experience was valuable for everyone involved with the organization.

“In 31 years, I’m pretty sure we’ve never had a coach with NFL experience or CFL experience come out. He’s a wealth of knowledge obviously, and it’s been great for us as coaches, too,” said Tanasichuk. “What I saw was the progression of the drills. He started off with some simple stuff initially, and then he progressed but kept the simple stuff incorporated in the drill, and before you know it he was adding different dimensions with another drill . . . It was becoming just natural for them to do the basics as they continued to do other drills.”

Lions’ lineman Colin MacMillan said it was “an honour” to be coached by MacDermott, even just for a few hours.

“I learned some stuff that none of our coaches might have thought of for technique, he has so many years of experience,” said MacMillan. “We really didn’t know how to cut block before. No one really knew what strategy to do, even last year. Now that we’ve learned this I think that we’ll be able to successfully cut block.”

During the cut blocking drill, MacDermott halted practice following MacMillan’s execution of the block so that his teammates could watch as he properly performed the cut block again.

“It felt pretty good,” said MacMillan. “It was quite an honour getting cheered on by a legend of an NFL and CFL coach.”

MacDermott said he enjoyed coaching the Lions and Bengals, and added coaching football is a profession based on results.

“If you can make one guy better, and this is the way I was in professional too, I really believe that football is a developmental sport . . . If you’ve got a talented guy and you work him and you show him something that’s going to make him a little better than the person he has to play against, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been for me,” said MacDermott.

Tanasichuk added the practice had a profound impact on some of the younger Bengals players, who only had their first taste of the gridiron game last week.

“We’ve had four days of football and we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to teach technique, so for some of these kids it was like night and day between the beginning of practice to the end of practice here,” said Tanasichuk. “Smaller guys are able to push around bigger guys because they’ve got proper technique, it was awesome to see.”

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