Milton: For the first-time, Jeremiah Masoli is the no-doubt No. 1

It was slightly more than two years ago that Jeremiah Masoli had been demoted to the practice roster, ranking no higher than fourth among Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterbacks.
In that 2015 season, he wasn’t even in uniform for the first dozen games and saw action in only the final week of the schedule.

But, as the undisputed and newly-signed leader of the 2018 offence said Thursday, that was the most significant step on his journey to signing a two-year, starter money, contract this week, precipitating Zach Collaros’s departure for the flatlands.

Rather than accepting practice-roster duties, he could have become a free agent but then, like this week, he passed on the open market.

“I didn’t have a lot going on besides that,” he recalled Thursday. “I wasn’t expecting to be on that list, so whenever you get put in a position like that, it’s like, ‘How much do you really like the game at this point in your life?’ You’re not young anymore, you’re not in college.

“Now looking back on it, I can kind of laugh on it. But it was one of the best experiences for me: the value of being put down there and just kind of having a life reality check. Is this really for me, or no? All those kinds of questions run through your mind. It was just a gut check of a ‘heck yes’ and I just wanted to get to work and prove that I could be that starting quarterback and that I had it within me.

“I felt like that from that point on I was able to really grasp what my coaches were trying to tell me.”

Two weeks later, after beating Toronto in the Eastern Semi-Final, he came within a whisker of sending the Ticats to their third straight Grey Cup game, throwing for a career-best 349 yards and two touchdowns in a late-game loss to Ottawa.

Although the injured Collaros returned partway through the following season to reclaim the reins that had passed, clearly temporarily, to Masoli it was “probably that game right there that kind of gave me the chip on my shoulder back. That I can hang with anybody and we can beat anybody on a given day.”

It was, as is all experience, the manifestation of hard-learned lessons but something else was going on, of which Masoli was likely unaware. His teammates and coaches were taking notice of how committed he was to improvement: most notably the hour he spent on the field doing drills after every practice, while often showing a new Ticat the CFL ropes.

“He’s gone through trying times, like most of us have,” Kent Austin said Thursday, “and he’s persevered. He’s grown and matured to be a real pro, and to gain trustworthiness with his organization and his teammates.”

Fortified with that inner-sanctum support, Masoli is on top of the depth chart now, with no real pyramid underneath him until (and if) Johnny Manziel is signed, or the Ticats go get an inexpensive backup with CFL experience. Austin says the front office is analyzing all that right now.

Masoli, meanwhile, concedes that coming into a season as the declared No. 1 feels different than in the past and he’s looking forward to continuing the momentum of 2017’s final 10 games with those Ticats who return. One of them, Jones let slip, will be Speedy Banks, whose re-signing will be announced Friday.

While Masoli took supreme advantage of Jones making the Labour Day quarterback change primarily to shake up the team, there is still the shadow cast by Manziel, whom Austin as much as said will receive the contract offer required to keep him on the Tiger-Cats’ negotiation list.

Like other distractions, just Masoli shrugged that one off.

“If our coaches feel like he’s a good fit for our team, I’m going to welcome him with open arms,” he said. “My life has always been about competition, on every team I’ve ever been on, so I’m not really worried about any competition at all.

“I don’t know the guy, but whatever I can do as a quarterback to help him adjust to the CFL, I’ll do.”

What he do to can help Manziel most as a person, he’s already done: set an example by channelling his energy into becoming a straight-ahead, hardworking professional.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (169 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

19 Comments on Milton: For the first-time, Jeremiah Masoli is the no-doubt No. 1

  1. HOLY MOLY JEREMIAH MASOLI!!!!

  2. earned it, for sure….good to see

  3. solara2000 // January 4, 2018 at 5:52 pm //

    Pulling for JM to continue his development as a starting QB. He has made significant leaps forward and now comes ‘polish’ time.

    • Billinburlington // January 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm //

      LOL – By “JM”do you mean Johnny Manziel (JoMa) or JeramaihMasoli (JeMa)? The latter I assume!22

  4. Masoli deserves it. When he was given a chance to perform he rose to the occasion…and not just once! Great to see him back and re-signed!

  5. Loved him since we played in Guelph and the wildcat game!

    Go Mazaratti, Go!!

  6. Good that this is settled. The QB dominoes have been falling but Masoli would still have been a hot commodity on the open market. Hope his loyalty has been rewarded with good money, and even more that the reward of a great season for the team lies ahead (though we’d all share in that).

    There’s been lament at times that the Ticats haven’t “developed” their own starter since Mike Kerrigan in the mid 1980s. Perhaps we now have again… yeah, Masoli spent a year on the Eskies’ “injured” list before being thrown in on a multi player trade, so the Cats didn’t bring him into the CFL, but his growth has happened in Hamilton. And early hiccups and the demotion aside, all he’s done is improve. Here’s to that continuing under Jones’ fatherly tutelage.

  7. Not so fast Steve. There is no fall back position. Now Masoli has to perform and if he does not Manziel will be brought in quickly. Mazoli is still a career backup in my eyes. Hopefully, he will prove me wrong. Manziel is going to come out firing and I would be shocked if Manziel does not emerge from training camp as the starting quarterback. Time will tell. Perhaps your story is another glimpse why Zach was not prepared to renegotiate his contract here. Maybe Zach wanted nothing to do with Manziel.

  8. And Steve , the question was put to Kent Austin I think on the Fan 590 or Sportsnet whether Masoli would be the starting quarterback and Kent answered to ask him this question in a week’s time. To me, this illustrates that Masoli is here to be Manziel’s backup. All signs point to Manziel starting and there will be incredible pressure on the Ticats to do this especially with new American viewers tuning into to Ticat Games. Stay tuned

    • Jerry Richardson // January 4, 2018 at 9:58 pm //

      You really think anyone in the States cares at all about Johnny Headcase anymore? That ship sailed years ago. No one down here is tuning in to see that.

  9. Great we go a forth string QB leading us to a non payoff spot again. Sure going to sale a lot of tickets. Just another one of Jones kids. When are we going to have a team of real men. Those are the men that will lead us to Grey Cups .

  10. Terrence learn how to spell check . Way to go Masoli good move on the cats to sign this guy. You non believers will be just fine with jm leading the way !

  11. Jeremiah deserves this!!

  12. Steve. Seriously? You think that the Cats will sign Manzeil but not play him? Seriously? Masoli only starts if Hamilton trades Manzeil… as they should. Otherwise Masoli is a backup to the Manzeil circus for two years. I think that Masoli made a big mistake not taking FA offers.

  13. Amicus do honestly think Manziel with no cfl experience and out of football for couple years is gonna walk into camp and take Masoli job ..you must be smoking that shit that gonna be legal soon!

    • Randy. Did you read what head coach (no previous CFL experience) said about Manziel? The ticket holders are gonna scream for the boy wonder.

  14. Masoli/Faloney.

  15. Good for you Jeremiah…now lead this #@%$^*! frustrating TC team to the Promised Land!

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