Ticats notebook: one first rounder signs, melee and May stands out

Offensive lineman Darius Ciraco wasted little time joining his new Hamilton Tiger-Cats teammates Tuesday.

Ciraco participated in the CFL club’s training camp session at Ron Joyce Stadium shortly after signing a contract with Hamilton. The Ticats selected the six-foot-three, 292-pound native of Burlington, Ont., sixth overall in the 2018 CFL draft out of the University of Calgary.

Ciraco played 28 regular-season games at Calgary from 2014-17. He was a 2015 Canada West all-star and second-team All-Canadian.

“It’s good to get him plugged into what we’re doing,” Hamilton head coach June Jones said. “He’ll get a chance to get in there (with) a lot of reps.

“I haven’t even met him yet . . . I was watching him a little bit out there, he moves pretty good. He’s like all rookies, he’s got to get his feet on the ground and get rolling.”

That leaves receiver Mark Chapman, who Hamilton took first overall, as the club’s lone unsigned draft pick.

CAMP ALTERCATION: The was a brief melee Tuesday after rookie defensive tackle Bobby Richardson contacted Hamilton starter Jeremiah Masoli during a pass play. Sophomore running back/defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock came to Masoli’s defence, resulting in a lot of pushing and shoving before order was finally restored.

On Monday, tempers flared after veteran receiver Luke Tasker was hit following a reception.

It was an eventful practice for the five-foot-10, 250-pound Whitlock, who also had a number of solid runs and receptions throughout the session.

“The reason I love Nikita is because he jumped in there to back up his teammates,” Jones said. “At the same time, he doesn’t help me if he gets kicked out of the game, and that’s what I told him.

“You have to be smarter than that, just walk away.”

Versatility is a treasured commodity in the CFL with teams dressing only 44 players per game. Essentially, the more positions a player can play, the more valuable he is.

And that’s one reason why Jones likes Whitlock.

“Nikita is going to play on special teams and both ways,” Jones said.

MAY IMPRESSES: One player who has caught Jones’ eye is linebacker D.J. May. The five-foot-11, 205-pound former Wyoming star is looking to crack Hamilton’s active roster after spending time on the practice squad last year.

May joined the Ticats after being released last May by the Detroit Lions. He played in 37 games at linebacker over his five seasons at Wyoming (2012-16).

He ran for 634 yards and three TDs on 133 carries (4.8-yard average) while adding 14 catches for 179 yards (12.8-yard average)and two touchdowns. Defensively, he recorded 130 tackles (13 for a loss), three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

May also returned 59 kickoffs for 1,507 yards and four punts for 20 yards.

“We’ve got to find a way for him to get on the field,” Jones said. “He’s a football player.

“His highlight tape (from Wyoming), I made sure everybody watched it. He just goes to the football. He’s got that something that finds the ball.”

Jones also wants to have Brett Wade, a six-foot-one, 270-pound defensive tackle from Calgary, see action at fullback.


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