Swayze Waters quickly set the record straight.
Following his first workout with the Toronto Argonauts on Monday, one of the first questions the 25-year-old American kicker faced was whether he was named after actor Parick Swayze. After all, earlier this season defensive back Pacino Horne divulged his mother named him after Academy Award-winning actor Al Pacino.
But no such luck with Swayze.
“I get that a lot,” the native of Jackson, Miss., said. “But it’s actually a family name.
“It’s my great-grandmother’s maiden name. It’s just a coincidence.”
Swayze attended the Edmonton Eskimos training camp earlier this summer before being released. Now, he’s looking to make Toronto his home, for the next couple of months anyways after the CFL club placed veteran kicker/punter Noel Prefontaine on the nine-game injured list with a hip ailment.
Toronto also signed veteran safety Etienne Boulay, a five-foot-nine, 187-pound Montreal native who spent six seasons with the hometown Alouettes before being released during training camp.
Argos GM Jim Barker said Prefontaine originally developed the hip problem during his time in Edmonton before being traded to Toronto on Oct. 12, 2010. Prefontaine has played through the ailment since returning to Ontario but Barker said it has worsened to the point where it’s affecting Prefontaine’s mechanics.
The 15-year veteran has connected on just 10-of-15 field goals (66.7 per cent) this season and has had misses returned for touchdowns in each of Toronto’s last two games. Hamilton’s Chris Williams took an errant Prefontaine attempt 119 yards for a TD on the final play of the first half of the Tiger-Cats 36-27 win Saturday night.
After Williams’ TD, Prefontaine spent the second half on the sidelines as rookie Anthony Alix handled punting and kicking duties, hitting field goals from 18 and 19 yards out but missing from 24 yards.
“Pre couldn’t get a consistent plant on field goals and punting . . . it’s creating a thing where he can’t control where his foot is,” Argos GM Jim Barker said. “He’s going to have that surgically repaired.
“We have a lot of players with a lot of pre-existing things but when you’re dealing with something so technique-oriented as kicking, this kind of thing can happen. We’re hoping (Prefontaine’s recovery) is a couple of months but you just don’t know.”
So Swayze will get an extended audition in Toronto, although Barker wasn’t sure if Swayze would handle kickoffs, punts and field goals against Winnipeg on Wednesday or split duties with Alix.
This isn’t the first time Toronto has had an American kicker — most CFL teams have a Canadian handling all three jobs to provide roster flexibility elsewhere. Justin Medlock had two stints with the Argos (2009 and ‘10) and connected on 47-of-56 field goals (83.9 per cent) over that span. Medlock was a league all-star last year in Hamilton when he hit on 49-of-56 field goals (89.1 per cent) before signing as a free agent with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
“When Medlock was here, when we got over the 50-yard line we just knew it was going to be three,” Barker said. “He [Waters] is a guy we’ve had on our radar.
“He [Alix] is going to be a guy who can kick in this league but to put him in that situation and put [first-year Argos head coach Scott Milanovich] in that situation with a rookie back there, we don’t want to do that.”
There’s no questioning Waters’ leg strength. He consistently hit field goals on a tee from around centre field, his punts had the desired combination of length and hangtime while he routinely boomed kickoffs to the goal-line.
And there is a YouTube video of Waters hitting a 70-yard field goal during a workout. But the former University of Alabama at Birmingham star has been a pro football nomad, having spent time Pittsburgh, Oakland and Detroit in the NFL before joining Edmonton.
“The life of a kicker,” Swayze said. “There are a lot of ups and downs and it’s like a roller-coaster.
“It’s something I’ve got used to but I’m ready to stick somewhere.”
Swayze and Boulay will both be looked to contribute on a Toronto special-teams unit that’s had its issues this season. In addition to surrendering two TDs off missed field goal returns, Williams returned a Prefontaine punt 87 yards for a touchdown Saturday.
Boulay, 29, earned two Grey Cup rings with Montreal but was limited to just four games last year due to a concussion. But Boulay said he feels fine and had no setbacks during the Alouettes’ training camp.
Boulay arrived in Toronto with an understanding of defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones’s defence — he played two seasons for Jones in Montreal — and said he’s ready to contribute in the secondary, if required.
However Boulay admits he has circled July 27 on his calendar when Toronto visits Montreal.
“I’m not going to lie, I did take a look at the schedule,” he said. “But I also don’t want to look past Winnipeg . . . it’s a big game.”
Mike O’Shea, the former standout Argos linebacker, is in his third season as Toronto’s club’s special-teams co-ordinator and Monday shouldered the blame for his unit’s coverage woes.
O’Shea said he hasn’t spent much time coaching coverage lanes and responsibilities to his cover teams, opting to concentrate on blocking assignments. And O’Shea underestimated how much his coverage units would miss such special-teams stalwarts as Bryan Crawford (retired), Willie Pile (retired), Kevin Eiben (now with Hamilton) and Jeremy Unertl (released).
“I think I was spoiled my first couple of years with guys that knew me and the players that were here,” O’Shea said. “I took it for granted and that bit us in the butt and I can’t let it happen again.
“Once again it’s back to the idea of coaching and that was a huge oversight on my part to not look at the new faces and age of the guys we have now. I know what I did wrong and how to fix it.”
O’Shea doesn’t want to make wholesale coverage changes for Wednesday’s game.
“What I believe in is consistency,” he said. “I think the longer guys work beside each other the better off they’re going to be.
“You wouldn’t throw O-linemen in and out and expect them to work well beside each other. I’d like to keep as many of the guys beside each other as possible so they start talking more football and communicating as they run down the field.”
And, O’Shea said, communication is a key.
“Last year we started communicating a lot better the second half of the season and our coverage got much better,” O’Shea said. “I’ve got to give Scott the end-of-the-year coverage teams from last year now, it’s only fair.
“If you look at our team it’s blatantly obvious what’s gone on the last couple of games is a direct result of special teams and my inability to get it right. We’re going to get it right.”