Argonauts flip a coin on Knill

The Canadian Football League’s latest record-breaker is headed for Ontario’s capital.

Michael Knill, Wilfrid Laurier University’s former offensive lineman and bench-pressing titan, was snatched up by the Toronto Argonauts as their final selection at the CFL’s 2011 draft on May 8, going in the sixth round, 43rd overall.

The six-foot-six MBA student made a name for himself at the CFL’s evaluation camp in early March, shattering the league’s bench-press record of 40 reps (previously held by former Golden Hawk Mike Montoya), and lifted 225 pounds 47 times straight.

The NFL’s record is 49 reps.

Listed at 350 pounds, Knill completed his undergrad in Michigan, the American’s home state, but transferred to Laurier to complete his graduate degree in 2009.

“He’s one of the strongest, if not the strongest kid we’ve seen in awhile,” said Argos director of Canadian scouting, Ted Goveia last week.

“We’re hoping he can transfer some of that stuff onto the field for us.”

The Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) 2010 second team all-star joins a cast of five offensive players taken by Toronto, including their seventh-overall pick, the University of Tulsa’s Tyler Holmes.

But don’t let Knill’s massive frame fool you- his brain packs as much of a punch as his brawn.

“Well, he’s pretty smart,” said Goveia.

“He’s getting a master’s degree — he’s a pretty bright kid; he’s got good character. From that standpoint, I’m sure he’ll be able to pick up our schemes.”

Knill was the lone Golden Hawk taken in the draft, but don’t think their program is slowing down, says the Argos’ top scout.

“They’re well-coached. They’ve always been well-coached for a long time. Gary Jeffries does a great job, [Ryan] Pyear does a great job. They’re always competitive. It’s a great football program.”

Knill is part of a rare breed who has suited up in both the Ontario University Athletics, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (the U.S. counterpart), playing for Laurier, Michigan and Michigan State.

That versatility and knowledge of the game on both sides of the 49th parallel opens up options for the juggernaut-like lineman as he pursues a professional career after his tenure with the Hawks ended last year.

He’s also the perfect role model for his fellow Laurier teammates, says athletics director Peter Baxter.

“He’s the model of a student-athlete — he’s got high academic achievement and high excellence… I think it means a lot to our current players… for them to know that one of their own is in the CFL.

“They saw his work ethic and talent, so they know what it took for him to get there and that’s where the bar is set… to have him so close to home is a bonus.”

Knill will now suit up for the Argos training camp and try to crack the roster.

“We expect him to be competitive,” said Goveia. “We’re excited; we think he’s a good addition to a good group already.”

Knill could not be reached from his home in Michigan.