A Portage product did a lot of learning in his first football season at McMaster University.

Eric McCutchin is a former Portage Collegiate Trojan and has moved on to continue tackling ball carriers while enrolled in post-secondary schooling. The linebacker describes the biggest challenges he faced in the early going.

"The first thing that most people would notice was that everyone was so much faster. That meant, decisions needed to be made faster," McCutchin explains. "It wasn't so much the size and strength, those were definitely factors, but the biggest difference was definitely the speed."

McCutchin says the other major adjustment was how complex the systems were and how in-depth they went with things as a team. The local adds they have many more responsibilities on and off the field and as a team, they have to pay much more attention to detail.

With McCutchin being in his Freshman year, he says he wasn't able to see the field this season but notes he was still able to gain a lot of knowledge during practices.

"It was some really good exposure to the calibre of players I'm going to be playing against," says McCutchin. "A lot of my time at practice was spent on the scout defence team where we would give our offence a look at what they could expect for the week. So, I had a lot of opportunities to compete against our first-stringers and really understand what a competitive offence can look like in this division."

The inside linebacker, unfortunately, had to spend his senior year at Portage Collegiate on the sidelines due to an injury but notes his head coach in his final season, Donald Burrell, preached one thing that continues to stick with him.

"We had a saying 'trust in the process' and we all got T-shirts saying that," McCutchin continues. "That is what I'm telling myself now. Trust that working out, following the program here, watching film, and all that will develop me into the player that this team likes and needs."

McCutchin says, while he obviously wants to become a starter next season, he has a few smaller goals that he says he will be focusing on first.

"My first goal would be to get onto special teams. Everyone has to earn a spot on the team and special teams is where you get the opportunity to prove to the coaches that you can be relied upon," McCutchin explains. "I'm going to shoot for a special teams role first and hopefully, with practice, I can show that I'm comfortable with our systems and responsibilities where the coaches can depend on me if I need to go in on defence."