Student of the game

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Tyler Lynem has been busy burying his head in the books this off-season, inching his way towards an economics degree.

It's time wisely invested, too, as CFL players never know when they'll be filling out job applications in the real world.

Not that the former Calgary Dinos defensive lineman, the Stampeders' first pick in the 2004 CFL draft (11th overall) is worried about what training camp holds in store next month.

Lynem's confident he'll still have a job, although the description may change.

After being selected a year ago by Matt Dunigan and Co., a prelude to a dismal 4-12 season, Lynem watched the whole crew empty their desks and vacate McMahon Stadium in January, clearing out for a new cast of coaches led by Tom Higgins.

Before Dunigan was shown the door, he sat Lynem down and explained the local boy would be moving to the other side of the ball in 2005.

While that might not sound like a drastic change to some, it is football's equivalent to one day being forced to wear your pants backwards.

So, of course, Lynem was relieved to see the Higgins regime occupying the same desks come the new year.

Naturally, the new coaches would spare Lynem of all that upheaval.

Well, not quite.

"Dunigan told me at the end of the season I'd be moving to the o-line this season and then, when everyone got cleaned out at the end of the year, I was kind of happy because I thought I was safe," Lynem recalled.

"Then coach Higgins phoned me and gave me the same spiel as the other guys did, that they wanted me on the o-line. So it's like, 'Look out! Better get ready.' "

Although Lynem played some o-line at Winston Churchill high school in Calgary, he never lined up in front of the quarterback again until pre-season last year in Edmonton, as a replacement for players ejected from the game.

At the time, Lynem thought it was merely an emergency measure. But this off-season he's already put on an extra 12 lb., pushing his weight to 290, while focusing on the necessary footwork to play permanently on the o-line.

"That's one thing I have to worry about -- I wasn't one of (the new regime's) picks and everyone who wanted me is gone now," Lynem noted.

"With these new guys, I guess I'll have to prove myself again but, oh well, it should go well.

"I just want it to work out. I don't want to get traded or released or anything. "I want to play with the Stamps and we have a lot of potential this year. We've made some strong moves."

Lynem's also been working with a personal trainer to add muscle mass. Joining him is Dinos o-lineman Tim O'Neill, a Victoria native who is hopeful to hear his name called in tomorrow's CFL draft.

Both Calgary and Edmonton have shown interest.

Lynem also met with new o-line coach Steve Buratto, who plans to employ an all-Canadian o-line this year. He provided the 24-year-old with some fancy footwork to polish up in time for camp.

"We met and he showed me some stuff to go over in the off-season, so I've been working on that with Tim," Lynem said.

"Tim's been showing me some stuff, too, because he's an ex- d-lineman turned o-lineman as well. He's only played o-line for two years and we've been trying to learn all these steps, stuff like that.

"Sometimes I feel like I can't play anymore, like I'm going to fall over, can't get it down yet. But that will come with time."

Just like that economics degree, which might become even more valuable if Lynem can't find a place along the Stamps o-line.

"That's why I'm here right now," Lynem chuckled. "School's OK. I don't mind it. It's better than working, although money's getting low. It's good that the season's starting up again soon."

And, with any luck, Lynem's CFL paycheques will, too.


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