ANDERSON – Colts rookies sometimes are asked to show their poise by having to sing in training camp.
The 6-0, 251, linebacker arrived in camp late Monday night and was on the practice field the next day.
Army’s all-time leader in sacks (28) and tackles for losses (49) is adapting to his new surroundings.
“I kind of just hopped on in there for the first time and it was pretty seamless,” said McNary on Wednesday. “I really wasn’t expecting that, but I’m glad I made it through that phase, took that first step.”
McNary endured a position change at Houston’s Clear Lake High School that caused him to look at Army. He had a couple of offers from smaller schools before choosing West Point.
McNary had 195 tackles, 117 solo, nine passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and is the only Army player with multiple double-digit sack seasons. He holds school records with four sacks in a game and 12.5 in a season.
McNary capped off his career with a 55-yard scoring return of a fumble in Army’s 16-14 victory over SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The win gave Army its first winning season since 1996 and first post-season victory since the 1985 Peach Bowl.
McNary participated in the regional combine in Dallas and posted evaluation numbers that drew the interest of Grigson and Chuck Pagano.
“Josh had an outstanding career at West Point,” said Grigson. “His production speaks for itself, but his intangibles rival any stats.”
Pagano is a master of many moments and used his unique platform to introduce McNary to his new teammates.
“Coach pretty much hit on the few topics about the translatable qualities that the Army has that also can be applied on the football field, those character traits, the accountability of yourself and holding your brothers in arms accountable,” said McNary. “But he kept it in perspective, he acknowledged the fact that this is a game, and that’s not really a game, in the Army. It was a heck of a speech. He definitely touched on the qualities.”
During the past two years, McNary served as a graduate assistant coach at West Point, went through an officer’s leadership course with an artillery emphasis which led him to Fort Hood, where he has served since last October.
“I was a fire direction officer,” said McNary. “It’s in the field-artillery, shooting 155-millimeter cannons, big rounds. It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun definitely.”
McNary now finds himself in the Colts’ batallion, a re-vamped 3-4 unit stocked with veterans and free agents. His role should be in the middle of the action.
“For the most part it’s exactly like riding a bike,” said McNary about his return to football. “There’s a few particulars, a few skill sets that you kind of have to knock the rust off of, like hand placement and some of the finesse moves that you would use.
“For the most part, everything I would use, primarily in the pass rush and in the position specifically that I played in college, all of that stuff came back to me really quick.”
From the regimen of the military to that of a training camp, it is not a big adjustment for McNary. There is a new sense of duty and honor, and it is a heady time for the McNary.
“(I’m) very excited, very excited. The anticipation’s been building since April,” said McNary. “It’s been a long time coming. Basically, it’s pretty much, ‘Hi, I’m Josh.’ All of the players have been really forthcoming and embraced me, so it’s made it really easy.”
The moment is not lost on McNary, nor likely is it for his former teammates and others who played football at service institutions.
All look to march through life, and McNary’s path is right in front of him.
“It means a lot not only to me but to my family and to all of those who have really supported me throughout this journey, that really saw some NFL potential early on in college,” said McNary. “I was never a favorite to be here, I pretty much walked on to the team at West Point and kind of took the world by surprise.
“It means a lot, but in no way am I satisfied just yet, I’d like to go on and see what I can do at this level.”