Hometown: Woodbridge, Ont.
Statistics: 92 of 105 (88 percent) on field goals; 148 of 149 (99 percent) on converts; 41.5-yard gross punt average; 56.5-yard kickoff average
Marc Liegghio took an unconventional path to football, taking to the game late in his childhood by way of rugby and soccer.
“I was a multi-sport athlete going into high school and one of my friend’s dads saw me playing rugby,” said Liegghio. “I was kicking and running with the ball and he approached me after a game and suggested I play football.”
The young athlete was nervous — given that he was smaller than almost everyone on the football team, Liegghio believed he wasn’t big enough to play.
“My friend’s dad encouraged me and said I could try whatever position I felt comfortable with. I tried quarterback and some other positions, but I eventually just stuck with kicking. That was my bread and butter as someone who’d grown up playing soccer.”
The cancellation of the national combine due to the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely disappointing for prospects across the continent. Though the event isn’t considered as important for kickers as other positions, Liegghio was still looking forward to performing for scouts from across the league.
“It was disappointing. I was looking forward to getting under the bench press, throwing up some reps and opening some eyes.”
Liegghio did 15 reps of 225 pounds at the 2019 East-West Bowl and has continued to train hard over the past eleven months. He predicts he would have recorded 18 to 20 reps at the national combine, which is quite a feat for a player his size.
Kickers who can perform all three duties — field goals, punts, and kickoffs — are highly sought-after at all levels of football. The CFL is no exception, though the player is of extra value if they also carry a Canadian passport.
The only national who held all three jobs last year was Lirim Hajrullahu of the Tiger-Cats (who, coincidentally, also attended Western). The 29-year-old is currently a free agent who is hoping to land an NFL contract, leaving Hamilton’s kicking position vacant.
Liegghio was named a first-team U Sports All-Canadian at placekicker and punter in 2019, a testament to his versatility. He believes that success will translate to the professional level.
“I see myself doing all three jobs in the CFL,” he said. “Hopefully a team would want me to do that for them. If not, that’s still a great opportunity. Even if I were to only do one kicking job, I would stay well-balanced in all three just in case I was called upon to do them.”
Specialists are always tricky to project when it comes to the draft. Top kickers have generally been third or fourth-round picks in recent years, though it’s not long ago that a kicker was selected in the first round (Rob Maver, 2010; Brody McKnight, 2011).
One could argue that Liegghio is the CFL’s best kicking prospect of the last five years. He holds the U Sports record for most field goals of all-time, after all, in addition to being an effective punter. He’ll be one of this year’s biggest wildcards, capable of rising or sliding as teams assess their kicking situations.
Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “He’s about where Lirim (Hajrullahu) was coming out of school. He won’t do all three jobs as a rookie, but he could do them eventually.”
Projected round: 2-4