Ticats veteran Justin Medlock most accurate kicker in CFL history

HAMILTON — The CFL record book reinforces what Justin Medlock knew all along: He’s the most accurate kicker in CFL history.

The 31-year-old Californian, in his third season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has made 166-of-190 attempts (87.4 per cent) over his five-year CFL tenure. He easily assumed the league crown, which is based upon 150 career attempts.

“I heard about it and kind of thought it had already happened before but they keep changing (minimum kicks),” Medlock said following practice Thursday. “In my mind, I already thought I was but that’s fine.

“That’s always the goal. Records are meant to be broken, I’m sure somebody else will down the road.”

The six-foot, 208-pound Medlock has made 26-of-29 field goals (89.7 per cent) and is the CFL scoring leader with 121 points. Hamilton (8-3) sits atop the East Division and is tied with Calgary for the league’s best record.

Medlock has also made 39-of-41 converts — those are from 32 yards out this year — and has resumed punting duties, sporting a solid 42.9-yard average. The former UCLA Bruin is also averaging 63.5 yards on kickoffs.

“For all that he gives us, which is a tremendous amount in the kicking game, I think he does a fine job punting as well,” said Kent Austin, the Ticats head coach/GM. “I have tremendous faith in him putting him out there to kick field goals.

“If he tells me he’s good and puts his thumb up, I don’t even hesitate with him out there. He does a good job in all three phases.”

Medlock, who’s married to LPGA golfer Hannah Jun Medlock, stands 34th in all-time CFL scoring (673 points) despite having played just 68 career games. His average of 9.91 points per contest trails only Mark McLoughlin (10.7), Damon Duval (10.3) and Dave Ridgway (10.0) in league history.

Heady stuff considering Medlock is in the final year of his CFL contract and won’t rule out taking another shot at the NFL. Medlock has been with six NFL squads — Kansas City, St. Louis, Washington, Detroit, Carolina and Oakland — as well as Toronto and Edmonton in the CFL.

“I wouldn’t say it (NFL dream) is dead but I wouldn’t say it’s my No. 1 priority either,” Medlock said. “I just want to kick . . . I love kicking in Hamilton so we’ll talk about that at the end of the season.

“But I also know it’s a business and I don’t mind going somewhere . . . you’ve got to do what you have to do and I know that happens.”

Medlock appeared in 10 games with the Carolina Panthers in 2012, making all 23 convert attempts and 7-of-10 field goals. He also averaged 58.2 yards on kickoffs before being waived.

Medlock signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 before being released. After not signing with another squad the rest of the season, Medlock joined the Ticats as a free agent in 2014.

“Physically maybe I’m not as strong as I was when I was younger,” Medlock said. “But mentally I’m five times better, I’ve been through more situations so I know how to respond.

“Usually kickers get to be their best between 28 and 38 so I still have about seven years of prime football . . . I’m in my prime.”

Medlock has had no trouble physically dealing with 32-yard converts this year but added the extra distance has forced him to keep his head in the game.

“Brandon Banks (Ticats kick returner) takes one to the house on a punt return and you’ve got to be ready to kick,” he said. “That’s what’s harder.”

So too is battling the windy conditions at Tim Hortons Field, where both of his missed convert attempts have occurred.

“They were the exact same kicks so I’m trying to figure out a couple of things with that,” he said. “The wind does blow here.”

But Medlock doesn’t allow Mother Nature to change his mindset going into every game.

“In my head I’m always thinking, ‘Hey I’m going to kick the game-winner, I’m going to make a big kick or create field position,’ ” he said. “I’m always going over situations knowing I could be kicking the game-winner real soon.

“I’m more focused on that part now than I was when I was younger.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press