Maruo ready to bring aggressive, violent game to CFL

By Chris O’Leary

Les Maruo has had one of the most complete football experiences of any player in this year’s CFL Global Draft.

Born in Yokkaichi, Japan, Maruo left his homeland when he was nine and moved with his family to Wichita, Kansas. He grew up there playing and falling in love with football. He went from Hutchinson Community College to the University of Texas at San Antonio. After he’d graduated, the desire to play football was still there, which led to a homecoming of sorts. He spent two years playing in Japan’s X League for the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers.

After a strong showing in the virtual Global Combine, the six-foot, 228-pound linebacker is poised to keep his football dream alive on Thursday, April 15, when the Global Draft takes place.

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“He’s got a very diverse playing background,” said a CFL official that first saw Maruo at the Japanese combine in 2020.

“With him, his strength was his ability to navigate within the box, so he’s good at avoiding blockers, getting downhill and stopping the run. While he’s undersized for the American game, he’s still athletic. In the Canadian game it translates pretty well.

“A punishing linebacker with proven special teams value. He had success in those roles at the Division I level. Very mindful of the situation and adapts his playing style. This is a physical, intelligent player. You’re looking at an aggressive, violent but also intelligent player here that flies around.

“His weaknesses are in coverage. He’s physically able but it’s more of an eyes and a technique thing. That’s stuff that could get coached very quickly.”

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