Argos take Legare with second pick

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

Until six years ago, basketball was Etienne Legare's sport of choice.

That ended one day when a friend asked him a simple question: "Why don't you play football?"

Legare joined his pal for a practice on the gridiron and fell in love with all things pigskin. The Argos yesterday became the beneficiary of Legare's sports switch, grabbing the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman with the second overall pick in the Canadian Football League Canadian draft.

"It all started there," the 26-year-old Legare said at the Argos' practice facility in Mississauga. "I was not really expecting to be a football player. Now, I'm going to do everything I can to help the team. If it means special teams or backup, I am ready."

The Argos signed Legare, the CIS lineman of the year in 2008, to a three-year contract. He will battle Adrian Davis for the backup job behind Adriano Belli, but it's clear Legare has the ability to be starting in the near future.

"He is a fierce competitor who strikes with authority, and he has a motor that doesn't quit," Argos assistant general manager Greg Mohns said. "That was the thing that really impressed our staff.

"He was the No. 1 player on our draft board because we felt he was the most ready to step on the field and play as a rookie."

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats surprised no one when they chose offensive lineman Simeon Rottier with the first pick. The Ticats had the third selection as well, but traded it to the B.C. Lions for two later picks. The Lions took running back Jamall Lee, who led the CIS in rushing last year and signed last week with the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, making him a bit of a risky selection.

B.C. then hooked into linebacker James Yurichuk at No. 4, and with the fifth pick, took receiver Matt Carter. Hamilton selected receiver Darcy Brown sixth, and the Montreal Alouettes went with offensive lineman Dylan Steenbergen at seven. The defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders ended the first round by picking defensive back Eric Fraser, the top-ranked Canadian in the NCAA, from Central Michigan.

Legare won't be at a disadvantage when he arrives for Argos camp next month. Centre Dominic Picard, signed as a free agent in February, was a teammate of Legare for a year at Laval and will be happy to show him the ropes off the field. Between the lines, Belli has embraced the idea that he will help mentor Legare.

The Argos chose seven players and hope they will have the same success with later picks that they've had in recent years. It's hard to find team officials who aren't happy on draft day, and Mohns was no different.

"We're pleased," Mohns said. "It's why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavours. Some like vanilla, others like Rocky Road."

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos