McGee in tune with Stamps

Stampeders safety Don McGee, who has spent most of his career as a corner, is also an impressive...

Stampeders safety Don McGee, who has spent most of his career as a corner, is also an impressive singer. He's been hitting all the right notes during training camp. (Calgary Sun/Jim Wells)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders coaching staff has been singing the praises of defensive back Don McGee and the first-year safety has been hitting all the right notes, too.

Through more than two weeks of training camp, the North Texas product has made a lasting impression on the McMahon Stadium practice field as part of the team's retooled secondary before heading back to his temporary digs to belt out a little R&B or gospel.

McGee says singing is a relaxing respite from camp rigours and he's pretty good, even though the rest of the world has yet to perk up its ears and take notice.

"I usually just go home, have my own little Bible studies and sing to myself," says McGee, a native of Dallas, where he recently joined the church choir. "I'm a world-renowned singer, though nobody else knows that."

Since packing his bags for Calgary, leaving behind the Lifeline Community Church, the 24-year-old McGee has been a convert of another sort on the football field.

Despite a college and pro career playing mostly cornerback, the 5-ft. 11-in., 203-lb. McGee slid over to safety in camp and appears to have won the starting job.

McGee originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys under head coach Bill Parcells in 2003 as an undrafted free agent, spending time on the practice roster before being released. With the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe last season, the quick and dependable McGee stood out as a versatile DB in almost every role.

"When I was in Dallas, coach Parcells was trying to move me to safety," McGee explains. "And then in Europe, I was supposed to be playing safety but it seemed like every week I ended up playing corner or nickel because one of the other guys would get hurt.

"This is my first team where somebody's actually said, 'You're going to play safety.'

The transition from corner means there's extra ground to cover, especially on the CFL playing surface.

"There's a lot more field to cover but I'm having fun running back and forth, having a pretty good time," McGee says. "Not many mistakes are being made, so if everybody keeps doing their job, we'll have a great defence."

An improved secondary will help the Stampeders emerge from three non-playoff seasons, a far cry from the drought McGee's old North Texas squad experienced in the Big West Conference.

After an unsuccessful bowl appearance in 2001, ending a half-century dry spell, the Mean Green with McGee at corner defeated Cincinnati in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl, the school's first title in 56 years.

"Oh, in 2001 it was the first time we went in 50-something years and then the second time when we won, nobody alive there could remember the last time we won a bowl," McGee recalls. "That was something."

Something to sing about, for sure.


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