Combine the size and farm-tough work ethic instilled from a young age in Linden Gaydosh and it’s almost as if he was constructed and nurtured to become a man among boys on the football field.
Nill high on Gaydosh
“Linden has always been a very quick athlete, he runs remarkably well, even at 320 or 330 pounds. But just by taking the extra weight off, it has helped his endurance. He will stay on the field and be more effective when he’s on the field for longer durations.”
Uof Calgary Head Coach Blake Nill
Gaydosh – the University of Calgary defensive lineman ranked number three on the CFL scouting bureau list among all 2013 draft prospects – grew up in Peace River, Alberta where he worked on the family farm and family run construction business.
“It taught me how to do hard work. The only way a hard job is going to get done is by actually doing it. There’s no point in whining and complaining you’re just going to drag the job out longer,” Gaydosh said.
His family runs a cash crop operation on approximately 1,500 acres of land in the prairie province. Canola, wheat and barley are the main grains grown on the Gaydosh land. And whenever there is down time, while the crops are growing or in the winter, the focus shifts to the family owned construction business – never a shortage of work to be done.
“Generally farm kids are more responsible. Their work ethic is higher because they’ve been associated with work since they were young children,” Dinos head coach Blake Nill said.“He’s a very responsible young man, you don’t have to say to Linden over and over you have to get this done.”
Growing up, when Gaydosh wasn’t working he was playing sports. Baseball, track and field, and like most Canadian kids, hockey.
“My dad used to avoid the football field on the drive to the hockey rink during the fall because he didn’t want me to see it and get excited,” Gaydosh explained. “He played football for the [CJFL’s Calgary] Colts. He never wanted me to play football because he got speared in the back and was paralyzed for a short while, but he managed to recover in a couple of weeks.”
As much as his dad, David, didn’t want his son to play the contact sport, there was a teacher and football coach who wanted him to play just as badly. Chris Friskie taught Gaydosh in grade seven and happened to be the Peace River High School football head coach as well. Friskie pestered Gaydosh for almost two years and he finally agreed to attend spring football camp with the Pioneers before his grade nine year in high school.
“My first practice, we’re running an Oklahoma drill [a tackling drill], first play I hammered a kid,” Gaydosh recalls. “I had no idea what I did. Everyone was cheering and I just fell in love with football from there.”
Did dad approve?
“He wasn’t happy when he found out the football coach in town convinced me to play,” Gaydosh explained.“But he accepted it once he realized that I was better at it and had more of a future in the sport than I did in hockey because of my weight and my size.”
Gaydosh went on to start on the defensive line in his grade nine season and through his high school playing years developed into a highly sought after university prospect. He wanted to stay and play his university football somewhere in western Canada so his family could watch him. He was heavily recruited by the University of British Columbia and in province schools such as the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.
“Coach Nill told me I wouldn’t be a starter – he didn’t blow any smoke,” the beefy defensive lineman said. “By him telling me that it was motivation for me – I was just like alright I need to prove to this man what I can do.”
“He obviously cared about the program and it was just the right fit.”
Low and behold, even though Nill didn’t guarantee him a starting spot during his recruitment to the Dinos program, Gaydosh started from game one when he arrived on campus. In fact, he went on to win the Peter Gorman Trophy as the CIS Rookie of the Year after his freshman season in 2009. Part of a Calgary defence that allowed a Canada West low 94.2 rushing yards per game in his rookie campaign.
No ego hindered Gaydosh’s development after he burst onto the Canadian university football scene in his first season at Calgary. His farm-type work ethic wouldn’t allow complacency to set in and has helped him develop into one of the premier defensive lineman in the country.
Although, both coach and player recognized that a hefty appetite might be holding Gaydosh back from reaching his highest level of potential on the field. “I got to a point there where I was the heaviest guy on the team. I was pushing about 350 there around Christmas time last year. I realized that it was just too much weight to be walking around with,” Gaydosh said.
“I didn’t feel very happy about myself at the time. Looking at pictures of myself at the beginning of the season and pictures at the end I could see a visible difference.”
“I went into my post-season meeting last year and already knew what Coach Nill was going to say to me. He said exactly what I thought and I fully agreed with it and took it from there.”
Nill’s message to his talented, and at the time, hefty defensive lineman: Drop weight or you’ll end up playing on the offensive line.
Gaydosh responded by powering back less food, no special diet needed, and eventually dropped all the way down from the 350-pound range to his current playing weight in the 290 region.
“Linden has always been a very quick athlete, he runs remarkably well, even at 320 or 330 pounds,” Nill said. “But just by taking the extra weight off, it has helped his endurance. He will stay on the field and be more effective when he’s on the field for longer durations.”
Even pro scouts took notice of Gaydosh’s drop in poundage.
“He’s lost a lot of weight,” said one CFL personnel evaluator. “He’s trimmed up and a lot more athletic.”
“As long as he continues to become more athletic and doesn’t get too stiff, he can have a nice career in the CFL as a defensive tackle.”
In his preparation to make the jump to the pro game, Gaydosh has the luxury of practicing against two offensive linemen who were high CFL draft picks in the 2012 draft. Kirby Fabien was selected seventh overall in the first round by the BC Lions and Carson Rockhill went number 13 overall in the second round to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Both decided to return to the Dinos for one more year of seasoning before making the jump to the pros.
“It’s impressive,” Nill said, when Gaydosh lines up with across from Fabien or Rockhill in practice. “It’s like two alpha males – they don’t want to back down.”
“There is no one better in Canada West right now than the two guys I go against every day,” Gaydosh said. “I use them to measure up and get better. Also, see what I’m going to be dealing with next year in the CFL.”
It’s only a matter of time before Gaydosh is lining up as a part of a CFL team’s defensive front.