Josh Hyer of the VSS Panthers has committed to the CIS University of Calgary Dinos football program for 2017.

Josh Hyer of the VSS Panthers has committed to the CIS University of Calgary Dinos football program for 2017.

Dinos dig Hyer big time

Josh Hyer says he would be a tyrannosaurus rex if given the choice to be a dinosaur for a day.

Josh Hyer says he would be a tyrannosaurus rex if given the choice to be a dinosaur for a day.

Hyer, a Grade 12 VSS student, will be a Dino for years to come after officially signing a CIS football contract with the University of Calgary team at a press conference Tuesday in the school cafeteria.

Calgary head coach Wayne Harris presented the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hyer with a jersey and sweatshirts to commemorate the occasion, attended by all Hyer’s teammates and scores of students.

“This is pretty big, this is one of the biggest days I’ve ever had in my life,” Hyer told The Morning Star in VSS head football coach Sean Smith’s office after the signing.

Hyer plays multiple positions for the Cats, leading them in tackles and sacks each game.

“I play tight end and dee end, but I prefer defensive end a lot more because I like hitting guys,” said the soft-spoken Hyer, accompanied by his father, James Hyer, and mother, Heidi Astin, at the special Hallmark moment. “I started playing football when I was six and I was that guy on the bench who didn’t play much for the first couple of years. It wasn’t until I kind of growth-spurted and was the big guy on the field that I started to play more.”

Hyer loved the welcoming he received from Harris and assistant coaches in Calgary, a big reason he chose the Dinos. He also gave major props to Smith for helping his development.

Harris, a former Dino and Calgary Stampeder linebacker, attended a Panther practice Monday.

“Josh is an outstanding athlete; he’s been at our summer camps and we noticed his ability to get off the ball. He uses his hands well and runs to the ball well. He reminds us of Cory Robinson, who is an all-Canadian on our team right now. He’s got the same skill set coming out of high school.”

Three seasons ago, Smith didn’t see Hyer as a future university player.

“However, in the past three years, Josh has dedicated himself in so many different ways to improve his game,” said Smith. “First and foremost, he understood the benefit of weight training and how getting stronger physically can help his football game. In addition, he has taken advantage of camps to improve his technique and get noticed.”

Smith says Hyer is pretty much an extension of the Panthers’ coaching staff.

“Josh has been such a good role model for the younger panthers by working hard, making good decisions and being a great teammate. I am so proud of the way he has developed and look forward to watching him play at the next level. I think Calgary is a great fit for him and he’ll get an opportunity to contribute in his first year which is rare.”

The Dinos don’t normally start rookies, but Harris says Hyer has the moxy and talent.

“We think the potential Josh has is limitless and it’s a matter of him working hard to attain his goal,” said Harris. “You never know. We start and play our best players. Our defensive line uses a rotational system; they average almost 50 plays a game between the six guys that we travel and play so they get lots of action.”

Said Hyer of Smith: “Sean Smith is one of the best coaches in B.C. and I think a lot of people would say that. He pushes us everyday you have to see a practice to see the magic he works.”

A huge NFL fan who also follows the CFL, Hyer will hit the weight room while tweaking his game on the field this season.

“I have to work on squeezing the pocket more, closing the gaps. I’ve watched the Dinos on-line and it’s fast. It’s a different environment for sure.”

He plans to study business at U of C.