On most CFL rosters, Loucheiz Purifoy would be the best defensive back on the team.
If he didn’t play in the ‘306’, Purifoy wouldn’t be overshadowed by stars like Ed Gainey and Nick Marshall.
Playing on arguably the league’s best defence in 2019 had plenty of upside, but it also attracted a lot more passes thrown his way. Purifoy is a prime example of a misfit toy finding his place in the defence with Saskatchewan.
A Deion Sanders-like player in the NCAA with the University of Florida Gators, Purifoy doubled as a starting defensive back and played some receiver. That was on top of returning kicks and playing lots of special teams on kick coverage and trying to block kicks, too.
But all of that wasn’t quite enough to stop his NFL draft prospects from disappearing after an arrest for marijuana possession and another off-field incident scared the National Football League away.
Two months before he was expected to be taken in the late rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, Purifoy was reportedly caught with marijuana again and another drug referred to as ‘bath salts.’ He narrowly avoided arrest by promising to act as a police informant and then was accused of not fulfilling his end of that bargain.
It was all enough for the standout prospect to go undrafted before the Indianapolis Colts signed him and kept Purifoy him around for most of the season. He was cut loose heading into the final four games of the campaign.
After he was barred for the first 10 games of the following year for reportedly violating the league’s drug policy and sitting out all of 2015, Purifoy looked north of the border to resurrect his football career.
The B.C. Lions director of football operations, Neil McEvoy, liked enough of what he saw for talent, that he chose to overlook the off-field problems and signed Purifoy for the 2016 season.
In Wally Buono’s first year back as Leos head coach following a four-year absence from the sidelines to concentrate on GM duties, the Lions bounced back from a seven-win season in 2015 to go 12-6 and finish second in the West Division.
Purifoy was a perfect fit in Mark Washington’s defence, which included star linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill. Purifoy teamed up with Brandon Stewart to solidify a secondary that helped the Lions’ defence surrender the second-fewest points in the league.
Purifoy and his teammates capped the turn-around year with a thrilling home playoff win over Winnipeg before hitting a brick wall in Calgary, losing to the Stampeders in the 2016 West Final.
A disappointing 2017 season for B.C. prompted Purifoy to sign with the Ottawa Redblacks where he wore out his welcome by mid-season. He was released because he “didn’t end up being the right fit” and finished the year with the Roughriders.
Fitting into a defence led by then-head coach Chris Jones — and later current defensive coordinator Jason Shivers — was enough to not only earn Purifoy a spot in Regina for the 2019 season but also a new contract through 2021.
It would be a stretch to suggest Purifoy is a superstar in the Canadian Football League or even on his own team. However, his four years in Canada have shown an impressive ability to play a supporting role on a defence led by other star players with more gawdy statistics.
Never one to pile up huge stats in any one area, he has proven to be a great athlete capable of providing tight coverage, tackle soundly, blitz well and make an impact on special teams.
It’s that versatility which makes Purifoy such an important asset. The slogan ‘only as strong as your weakest link’ is true for the sport of football more than any other.
Purifoy is hardly the Riders’ weakest link but rather a strong import talent capable of shoring up a secondary well enough to force opposing offences to throw at star defenders such as Gainey and Marshall.
No defensive pass rush in professional football is effective without being back-stopped by a competent secondary. You can’t really have one without the other. The Riders have that and then some and it is no coincidence teammate Charleston Hughes was able to lead the league in quarterback sacks in 2019 at the ripe old age of 35.
Nor was it a coincidence that his teammate, Elimimian, had a strong enough defence around him that he was able to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in 2016.
Purifoy was and is an X-factor for Hughes, Elimimian and the Riders.
Waiting out the pandemic at his home in Pensacola, Florida, he has confirmed plans to rejoin the Riders when the league fires up again, telling 3DownNation: “They embraced me and let me know they wanted me to come play with them, also I fit right in with the brand of football they play.”
At number 66 on this countdown, the melon heads in Saskatchewan are banking on Purifoy being a play-maker for them again next season, however it happens.
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.
65. REC Lemar Durant, B.C. Lions
66. OL Brendon LaBatte, Saskatchewan Roughriders
67. OL SirVincent Rogers, Ottawa Redblacks
68. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Free Agent
69. DB/RET Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
70. DB T.J. Lee, B.C. Lions
71. QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
72. SAM Anthony Cioffi, Free Agent
73. DB Shaquille Richardson, Toronto Argonauts
74. REC Kamar Jorden, Calgary Stampeders
75. OL Darius Ciraco, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
76. REC Jalen Saunders, Free Agent
77. QB Dane Evans, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
78. REC Brad Sinopoli, Ottawa Redblacks
79. RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent
80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions