Dewit seems like the strong, silent type.
Lindsay Goodwin/the Gauntlet

Double threat rocks CIS this season

Mark Dewit does awesome double-duty on Dinos football and wrestling

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Six foot four, 285 lbs Mark Dewit was a monster on the mat and on the field this past year.

Dewit, a fourth-year student at the Haskayne School of Business, pulled double-duty this past season as an offensive lineman for the Dinos football team during the fall semester and a wrestler during the winter. He's been playing both sports at a high level since high school.

Born in Calgary to a father who played NCAA football for Weber State and a mother who was a cheerleader in high school, Dewit started his athletic career playing flag football in junior high before moving on to tackle football in Grade 10. In his high school football career, he earned numerous awards including the Henry Phillip Taylor award as the top graduating division two football player in the city and the John Mayell award as the male high school athlete of the year in Calgary.

But just being successful in football was not enough to keep Dewit satisfied.

"One day in Grade 12, I was bored because football season was over," Dewit said. "I was tired of just training and working out, so I went out and joined the wrestling team."

Dewit took the provincial high school championship in his weight class, despite it being the first and only year he would wrestle in high school.

Following high school, Dewit began his career as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport athlete with the Dinos football team in 2004. The first year of transition was tough.

"You go from being a big fish in a small pond in high school to being a no one basically for the first couple of years," explained Dewit.

During his first year on the Dinos football team under then-coach Tony Fasano, Dewit didn't see any playing time and spent the entire season on the practice squad.

"That was the hardest thing I have ever done," Dewit remarked. "Not seeing any field and just practicing--getting my butt kicked every day."

Since that year, Dewit has transitioned well. In his second year with the team, he started half of the season on the defensive line before being moved to the offensive line under now-Dinos head coach Blake Nill. This past year, the Dinos were one of the top rushing teams in the country and Dewit started all nine games the Dinos played.

Nill noted that Dewit leads by example.

"He gets the job done on the field," said Nill. "He gets the job done as a leader. He has the respect of all the players and the coaches. If I had 90 Mark Dewits, we'd be in really good shape."

Dewit's rise on the Dinos football team coincided with his return to competitive wrestling. After not wrestling in his first year at university, he was recruited by the Dinos wrestling team in the 130 kg class. At the 2008 CIS wrestling championships in Calgary in Mar., Dewit took away CIS gold after upsetting a tough Brock University wrestler to gain a spot in the finals.

Dinos wrestling coach Mitch Ostberg is impressed with Dewit's success.

"He's done remarkably well for our team, considering just the sheer training time in wrestling," Ostberg explained. "It's a highly technical sport and so his ability to manage the learning curve and the preparation to be a champion in such short order is really excellent."

Despite the CIS gold, Dewit said he would not be returning to the wrestling squad next season. With both teams training in the winter months, Dewit had a hard time performing the training, school and life balancing act.

"January to March was a pretty scary time," said Dewit. "I was wrestling two hours a night, working out two hours a morning and trying to sleep and do school somewhere in between."

Dewit can now focus on his dream of one day making it to the Canadian Football League. He took one step closer this past weekend when he participated in the CFL combine in Toronto along with fellow Dino, linebacker Chase Moore.

Before the weekend, Dewit admitted he was a little nervous.

"All of the CFL coaches and scouts [could] be there," he said. "It's pretty nerve-wracking. They basically show you off like you're a piece of meat."

But Dewit worked through his nerves and performed well, finishing with the fastest offensive lineman time in the 40-yard dash, the second-highest jump in the vertical jump and the fourth-best bench press with 14 reps of 225 lbs. He returned to Calgary a little closer to his CFL goal after a formal interview with the Montreal Alouettes and several informal interviews with other teams.

"Going in, I really had no clue where I stood among all the guys that are draft-eligible this year, especially o-linemen and coming out, I still have no idea," Dewit said. "I know I tested better than a lot of these guys, but it all still comes down to what the coaches think about you."

Nill feels that Dewit has a good chance at achieving his dream.

"It gets down to the fact that this kid does what it takes," said Nill. "He's not afraid of hard work. He understands what it takes to be successful and when you combine those two things, barring injury or a change of mindset, there's no question that he's going to have as great an opportunity as there is to play at the next level."

After balancing both wrestling and football for parts of his high school and university career, Dewit will finish his university career with just the football team and as he cites himself as a football player at heart. Dewit is draft-eligible this year's Canadian College Draft Apr. 30, but explains he isn't worried about not getting drafted this spring.

"I have another year of school and another two years of eligibility in football," said Dewit. "Even if I don't get drafted, I'm playing another year of CIS football and I can get picked up as a free agent after that."