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McIntosh a special player for Nevada

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Playing special teams was a way to get on the field for Andy McIntosh as a redshirt freshman at Nevada.

Now it’s a way of life. McIntosh, a wide receiver by trade, has made his mark on coverage and return teams, while trying to earn more time on the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s great getting on the field and contributing,” said McIntosh, the former Douglas High star. “Special teams means a lot, and it is important. Even if I were playing more offense, I’d still want to be on special teams.”

That’s music to the ears of Barry Sacks, the Pack’s special teams coordinator.

“We have guys that take a lot of pride in special teams, and Andy is one of those guys,” Sacks said. “Special teams is important to Andy McIntosh, and that’s not just lip service. He’d sell his soul.”

Two years ago, McIntosh won five black shirts. The black shirts are given out each week to the top special teams players from the previous week, and they are worn the entire week. He made 11 tackles that season, and followed that up with four tackles and a fumble recovery last year.

“It’s big thing to wear that,” Sacks said. “People wait for that announcement in team meetings. It takes guts (to play on special teams). You have to have ability.

“Andy is a jack-of-all trades. Our special teams has gotten better in increments. I wish I had 11 of him.”

Admittedly, McIntosh’s first love is offense. He didn’t catch a pass his redshirt freshman season, usually playing in blowout situations. His playing time was a little better, and he caught four passes for 36 yards, including a long gain of 13 yards last year.

McIntosh has made improvement each year. It’s been tough to move up the ladder, however, because wide receiver is one of the most-crowded spots on the roster. It’s probably the deepest unit on the entire squad.

“Definitely I have improved,” McIntosh said. “My route running is better and knowledge of the offense. The offense is not too bad to learn. It’s not too bad if you grasp the concepts. Once you get that, you get (understand) the rest of the offense.

“Of the years that I have been here, this spring was the best I’ve played. I thought I did relatively well in games when I got in. I have to make the most of every opportunity I get.”

Scott Baumgartner, the Pack’s wide receivers coach, is pleased with McIntosh’s progress.

“His routes are much better,” the Nevada assistant said. “His knowledge of the passing game has improved. He can play on instinct now instead of thinking about it. That is where his experience comes into it.

“He has good hands and excellent speed. He’s improved every year. There is a lot of competition. You have to compete everyday.”

McIntosh grew up playing football, and this is the first year that he’ll be playing without part of his parental support system. His mom, Cindy, passed away due to cancer at the tail end of last season.

“We (Andy and I) have talked about it,” Baumgartner said. “I had a similar situation when my sister-in-law passed away. Andy has done exceptionally well. He’s very close with his family, and that helped the healing process.”

McIntosh said he used to talk to his mom quite a bit during the school year, some times more than others depending on the time of the year. He said he always called her before games, and that would give him more strength.

No doubt this season will be for mom.

•Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281