Jake Reinhart is a bit of a rarity in the Canadian Football League.
The Guelph native, University of Guelph graduate and long snapper for the Toronto Argonauts is starting his seventh full season in the league and all have been with the Argos.
“It's rare that a guy like me will play for the same team for seven years, which I'm extremely thankful for,” Reinhart said. “It's a great spot for me to be, that's for sure.
“Last year should've been (season) No. 7, but this will be my seventh full season. I've got over 100 games played in the CFL now and hopefully I'll just keep rolling right along for the Argonauts.”
Reinhart and the Argos are in their training camp at the U of G’s Alumni Stadium as they prepare for the delayed opening of the 2021 season.
With the pandemic causing the start of the season to the first week of August, a tad over a month and a half later than normal, the league scrapped its preseason schedule and will go straight into regular-season play following a trio of weeks getting ready.
For Reinhart, the complete loss of the 2020 season might have been a good thing as it gave him time to completely heal following the 2019 season when he suffered the first serious injury of his career.
“I tore my calf and then I was forced to miss six games of the season,” he said. “I wasn't too happy about that, but I guess I'd gone so long without a serious injury. I was a little banged up here and there, but still able to play, but that one really set me back.”
The injury and lost time limited Reinhart, now 31, to one defensive tackle and one special teams tackle on the season. He’s now played 102 games for the Argos and had two defensive tackles and 31 on special teams while becoming a highly-respected long snapper.
“I'm definitely aiming to stay healthy this season and get more games -- just keep stacking those games,” he said. “That calf tear was just a freak injury. I don't feel like it was being overused or anything. I was just running down the field and then I felt like I had a cramp, but it just never went away and it ended up being a torn calf.”
Due to the injury, Reinhart plans to change his in-season workouts a little.
“I'm going to approach it a little differently this year in season and not go really crazy with the extreme, heavy, long workouts,” he said. “It'll be more lighter weight, explosive movement and lots of stretching. I feel if you can do that in the season, then you're not sore from overexerting yourself all the time and you can roll into games not feeling you're sore and tired because of your workouts. I'm aiming to do that a lot more this season.”
While Reinhart is on the university field this week, his efforts to work out there during the pandemic were stymied. Working out there during the off-season is the norm for the former Gryphon.
“It was hard to get on the fields,” he said. “I was trying to sneak on to the facilities at the university. I like using the turf fields to run around on, but gosh, it would be easier to rob a Brinks truck than get on one of those turf fields at the university. As soon as I get there, they always tell me to leave.”
He did work out a bit at Exhibition Park, basically around the corner from his home, but he’d rather have been on artificial turf for his workouts.
“Exhibition Park is nearby and I did some work there, but the snapping, I just like to do it on turf, artificial turf,” he said. “It's where the majority of the games are played and I just prefer to practise there. The balls stay fresher and nicer and you don't destroy the turf when you're snapping and doing your work.”
And while the gyms in the province were shut down during the lockdown, Jake and his younger brother Job commandeered their father’s garage to set up some weights for some workouts. Also a long snapper who was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in 2019, Job stepped away from the sport to pursue a career in policing and has since become a member of the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
“We were fortunate enough to scoop up some dumbbells and barbells, just basic stuff, no high-end equipment,” Jake said. “We were fortunate enough to keep in shape by just lifting weights and taking over the garage at my dad's house.”
Being one of the older players on the Argos roster, Reinhart will be looked at for leadership and also some mentorship.
“I always found when I was the young guy coming in to a new team I was always more at ease when the veterans were nice guys and would show you the way, help you out and give you words of encouragement,” he said. “I always found that to be so great. Sometimes there were some fellas who had been around more and you always really respected, but they weren't always the nicest to you from time to time. I always try to reflect on that and be aware that I want to be one of those guys who's kind and can help others if someone is having a bad day or not feeling the best or the coach is down on them.
“I know it can make a difference if you can offer a guy like that some words of encouragement. I hope to be in that position to help those fellas out and lift them if they're feeling down.”
It might be hard to predict anything in the league following 20 months of down time.
“I don't know what at all to expect. I definitely have high hopes for the Argonauts, especially with the big names that they've been signing,” Reinhart said. “Of course I've got to say that Toronto's looking really good, but I really don't know what to expect with a year off and then just the CFL being what it is. There's such a high turnover rate of players bouncing from team to team and a lot of guys have just chosen to retire, too, which will definitely shake things up as well.”
But Reinhart knows he’ll be ready for the 2021 campaign.
“I feel like I'm in the best shape of my career,” he said. “I'm feeling really good and healthy. The year off, too, that was another thing. Sometimes your body just gets beat up
playing football. I usually always get troubles with my hands, just blocking, jammed fingers and things like that. Right now I feel very good, very healthy.”