The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Colts

April 11, 2013

Colts look to military for reinforcements

ANDERSON, Ind. — After a position change during his senior high school season, Josh McNary thought he’d left football behind.

The plan was to head to the University of Houston, study pharmacy and prepare for his life’s work.

But he ended up at West Point, walked onto the football team and left as the Black Knights’ career sacks leader and a lieutenant in the Army.

And this summer McNary will get his shot at the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.

“I did have other opportunities,” he said during a conference call with local media Thursday. “But the Colts were just unique in their eagerness and enthusiasm to get me on board. I got a call from the general manager (Ryan Grigson) himself to sign with the organization. That was huge.

“Then getting a call from Coach (Chuck) Pagano, it was basically like an overwhelming amount of attention and enthusiasm that they showed toward me. So it definitely wasn’t matched by any other teams.”

It’s been two years since McNary last played in a football game.

He left Army in 2010 with 28 career sacks and 49 tackles for loss, setting program records in both categories. He is the only Black Knight to record two double-digit sack seasons, and he also holds records for sacks in a game (four) and a season (12.5).

But the NFL didn’t touch him in the 2011 draft because of his two-year commitment to the armed forces.

McNary started his military career as the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Army football team. From there, he spent about six months in an office of leadership course before accepting his post as a lieutenant at Fort Hood last October.

“I don’t think any other job compares to Army lieutenant with the responsibility, how much it demands of a kid so young, straight out of college,” McNary said. “You get millions of dollars worth of equipment assigned to you that you are responsible for. You have a whole worth of men that you are responsible to manage. It’s a lot on your plate, but it just makes it all the more fulfilling and satisfying when you do a good job.”

Perhaps McNary was destined for military life.

His father was a Marine officer. His paternal grandfather fought in the Korean War, and his maternal grandfather saw battle in World War II. He has an uncle who is a first sergeant in the Army and cousins who are officers.

He’s spent the past six years learning that life, and he’d like to return to service whenever his time in the NFL is over.

“I’ve learned so much, not only through college and the four years at The Academy, up until this point I’ve been in the Army, and I’m trying to learn so much,” he said. “I’m feeling comfortable in my role in the Army that I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. Not to mention it’s also a pretty fun experience.”

But football was a pretty fun experience for McNary, too.

The Army kept him in shape, but it wasn’t necessarily football shape. With his two-year commitment expiring in late May, McNary has taken to running through football drills in recent months.

Learning, he said, to move “like a football player” again.

“You’ve got to get on the seat and start pedaling,” McNary said, comparing returning to the game to getting back on a bicycle. “I just try to dive straight into it.”

He set his sights on last weekend’s regional scouting combine in Dallas, knowing it would be his best chance to impress NFL decision makers. Like the soldier he is, McNary focused not on doing the minimum expected of him but on obliterating all preconceptions.

“I was kind of skeptical as to how teams would perceive me, having been out for two years,” he said. “I expected for them to kind of doubt the shape I was in. Not to mention I also wanted to improve on what they did see from the film of me in college.

“I wanted to at least get back to that level, but then be better than that just to kind of impress people and reassure them that I didn’t lose anything, and in fact I actually gained something in these few years that I’ve been out of the game.”

There still will be skeptics.

McNary was projected as a late-round pick coming out of college, when he wasn’t also dealing with the baggage of a two-year layoff. At 6-foot, 251 pounds, there also will be questions about whether he has the size to excel as an outside linebacker in the NFL.

But McNary has proven the doubters wrong before -- being named the East-West Shrine Game Pat Tillman Award winner at the annual college all-star game in 2011, among other accomplishments -- and he has a strong supporter in Grigson.

“Josh had an outstanding career at West Point,” the Colts general manager said. “His production speaks for itself, but his intangibles rival any stats. He is still fulfilling the commitment he made to serving our country, but we look forward to him wearing the horseshoe here in the near future.”

McNary could be in Indianapolis for the mandatory minicamp in early June, and he’s confident he’ll be on hand when training camp begins in late July or early August.

He’s also confident he’s got a future with the Colts.

“These guys saw things in me that only I thought I knew I had,” he said. “They really sound like they really know what they’re going to do with me. They sound like they’re going to put me in a place that’s going to optimize my potential, kind of like I was in college, filling a role on defense. So I thought it was a pretty safe choice.”

1
Text Only
Colts
  • SPT - HB0322 - Grigson art Grigson happy with offseason additions Though he stopped just short of declaring his shopping spree over, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear Friday he's happy with the team's offseason haul.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0318 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • George Bremer-2.JPG George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football

    Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_irsaymugshot.jpg Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bryant Orem said.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0316 - Nicks photo Nicks betting deal with Colts will pay off Hakeem Nicks is betting on himself. The 25-year-old wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring and a long injury history from five years with the New York Giants chose a fresh start in Indianapolis because he believes the pieces are in place for the franchise to make a long postseason run.

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0315 - Nicks art Colts add WR Nicks on one-year deal The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver corps was severely depleted in the second half of the 2013 season. On Friday, the franchise bought an insurance policy for this fall.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0314 - Jones art Colts DL Jones comes from fighting family If nothing else, Arthur Jones is up for a fight. Most older brothers are confident they can best their younger siblings. But it jumps to another level when the younger brother is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0313 - Alex Mack Colts quiet on free agency's second day Wednesday was relatively quiet for the Indianapolis Colts, as general manager Ryan Grigson appeared content to let the market settle on Day 2 of free agency before making his next move.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0312 - Arthur Jones art Colts' focus mainly internal on Day 1 Ryan Grigson crossed his top offseason priority off the list Tuesday as the Indianapolis Colts spent the first day of NFL free agency largely retaining their own talent.

    March 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0311 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Free agency season is upon us The Colts are about to lose cornerback Vontae Davis. Unless, of course, the sides are about to agree on a new deal. Depends on whom you're following on Twitter and when you last checked your timeline.

    March 11, 2014 1 Photo

Colts Video
Twitter Updates
Reader Photos From Camp


Share your camp photos with us.

Colts Camp Webcast Archive