The Hamilton Tiger-Cats added some Canadian depth on Thursday, signing five national players.
The club re-signed defensive linemen Everett Ellefsen and Stephen Mawa, as well as offensive lineman Everton Williams while also adding two newcomers in defensive lineman Ricky Osei-Kusi and national linebacker Geoff Hughes.
Ellefsen appeared in three games with the Tiger-Cats last season after being selected in the sixth round of the 2015 CFL Draft. Born and raised in Louisiana, Ellefsen obtained dual citizenship during his senior season at McNeese State courtesy of his mother, who is originally from the Ottawa area.
“I was showing my buddies my Canadian passport and my American one,” Ellefsen said in August, just before making his CFL debut. “It made me feel like 007.”
Mawa was a sixth round draft pick in 2014 and spent last season on the practice roster, as did Williams, who was converted to offensive line after playing four seasons at defensive end for the University of Toronto.
The Ticats have had some success moving players from one side of the player to the other: veteran fullback C.O. Prime was a linebacker in college while Mathieu Girard appeared in all 18 regular season games as an offensive lineman in his rookie season in 2015 after a excellent career as a defensive lineman at Laval.
Osei-Kusi registered 102 tackles and 20 sacks in five seasons at Western and was a 2014 second team all-Canadian. Hughes is a native of Regina and played five years at the University of Saskatchewan while earning academic All-Canadian honours every season.
Hamilton still has a number of key Canadian contributors slated to hit free agency in February, including defensive tackle Ted Laurent, receiver Andy Fantuz and defensive back Courtney Stephen.