3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 97 DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

What do you call a player who was named a league all-star in each of his first three CFL seasons? A top 100 talent.

Taylor Loffler overcame massive hurdles to become a professional football player. The native of Kelowna, B.C. tore the ACL in his right knee twice before dressing for his first post-secondary football game.

The first tear happened when Loffler was playing quarterback and defensive back at Kelowna Secondary High School. He had already committed to Boise State and, fortunately, the school chose to honour his scholarship while he rehabbed the injury. He redshirted his first year with the Broncos.

The second tear occurred in a spring training session and forced him to miss the entire 2012 season — two years of football had gone down the drain.

Loffler was finally ready to play the following season, making twelve total tackles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one pass knockdown in eight games. He was experiencing discomfort and learned that he needed to have labral repairs done to both hips.

With two major surgeries done and two more to go, the hard-hitting defender considered retirement.

“I was considering not playing anymore because I was getting a business degree from Boise State, I had that as a good backup plan,” Loffler told CFL.ca in 2016. “But after the hip surgeries I took time to heal and felt great.”

Loffler completed his business degree at Boise State in 2014 and decided to return home for his final year. He transferred to the University of British Columbia where he became the team’s starting safety, helping the Thunderbirds capture the Vanier Cup.

It was one of the most dominant seasons by a defensive player in the history of Canada West. Loffler recorded 98 total tackles, six tackles for loss, four interceptions, four pass knockdowns, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

His long history of injuries hurt his draft stock, but his dominant performance in 2015 still caught the attention of CFL scouts. Loffler was selected in the third round of the 2016 CFL draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a team that planned to start an American at safety.

Macho Harris started the 2016 season at safety for the Bombers, having already played under long-time defensive coordinator Richie Hall during their time together in Saskatchewan.

Harris suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5, thrusting Loffler into the starting role. The rookie Canadian quickly became a star due to his hard-hitting style of play, recording 66 tackles, four forced fumbles, four interceptions and one sack in 17 games.

Loffler remained the starting safety in Winnipeg for two more years, making 131 tackles, four interceptions and three forced fumbles during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He was named a CFL all-star all three years, becoming just the ninth player in league history to do so in each of his first three seasons.

The six-foot-three, 220-pound defender signed with Montreal in February 2020, inking a two-year deal that made him the highest-paid safety in the CFL. He recorded 27 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in six games before suffering another torn ACL — this time in his left knee.

Loffler decided at the end of last season to return for 2020, choosing to rehab his third ACL tear. The cancellation of the season has given him more time to recover and both knees will be back to full strength when the CFL returns in 2021.

Taylor Loffler to return for 2020 season following third ACL surgery

Loffler is slated to become a free agent in February 2021, which means he could be suiting up for a new club next season. Teams are leery of his injury history, but there’s no doubting the talent of the three-time CFL all-star.

3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players, a project that will run through December 31, 2020. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.