The Argos like what they see so far in Eric Crouch. In fact, they see a player who reminds them a lot of Matt Dunigan.
Whether Crouch, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2001 with the University of Nebraska, develops into another Dunigan, who recently was selected to enter the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, time will tell.
"I just want to play football," he said yesterday following a workout yesterday at an indoor sports complex in Oakville. "I want to get on the field and let things fall into place and prove myself. That's the first thing I have to do."
Crouch worked out in front of various Argos onlookers, including starting quarterback Damon Allen, who provided some pointers to Crouch.
"He has a strong arm," Allen said. "He reminds me a lot of Dunigan throwing the football. It's very close. Dunigan was strong and threw a heavy ball and even the size is very similar. He could be the modern-day Dunigan."
At 6-foot, 201 pounds, Crouch is slightly taller and heavier than Dunigan, who played for 14 years in the CFL, but possesses a similar quick release.
Crouch battled criticisms about his arm strength during his university career and his ability to transfer it to the pro level. The St. Louis Rams selected him as a receiver/return specialist in the 2002 NFL draft. He walked out on the team after the first regular-season game because of a lingering ankle injury from university. He hasn't had a realistic shot to showcase his skills as a quarterback with various pro teams since then, but the Argos are giving him the chance. Many people believe his mobility is tailor-made to the CFL game.
"I know I've got a strong enough arm for this game and once I get a chance to build myself with a receiver corps and spend some time with them, it'll be money," he said. "I really believe it will be a good situation. I'm a competitive person and I help to bring those qualities out in other people ... My goal right now is to get in the best shape of my life and to get the playbook as fast as I can."
Crouch has given the Argos optimism about his potential.
"We'll take it to the next level and see, but we're happy with what we saw today," assistant GM Greg Mohns, who has been tracking Crouch for three years, said.
The 27-year-old Crouch has been on and off the Argos' negotiation list since 2000.
With Michael Bishop under contract but currently in the Arena League with Chicago and uncertain whether he wants to back up Allen again, the Argos are addressing their quarterback needs. Besides auditioning Crouch, the team is talking to Winnipeg and Saskatchewan about acquiring a quarterback in a trade.