Ticats receiver Jaelon Acklin passes up reality show stardom for CFL training camp

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

When the CFL announced its plan for a delayed 2021 season beginning on August 5, player reactions ranged from ecstatic to cautiously optimistic to downright skeptical.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Jaelon Acklin may have been the only one to feel a pang of disappointment, if only for a second.

“I feel great about it because I finally get to play some football. But, I’ve been waiting so for long for the CFL to say something and when they finally did, I was actually kind of bummed out for just a moment,” Acklin admitted to Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator.

“I haven’t had any plans for two years and just when I do, the very next day the CFL drops that on me!”

Unlike most players who are making the choice between football and established career opportunities, Acklin is choosing training camp in Hamilton over something a little more glamorous: TV stardom.

His Instagram account caught the attention of a casting agency and Acklin was slated to appear on the soon-to-be launched reality show ‘Leap of Love’ before the CFL kyboshed his plans.

“One of their executive producers wanted me on the new dating show, I think it’s planned for Fox Network,” Acklin explained.

“It’s set in an old European castle, old school, no cell phones. I don’t know if they already knew before the interview that I was a football player, but they were intrigued. They wanted me to go to Europe in July and August to shoot it.”

Instead of a European vacation and shot at love, Acklin will instead be enjoying grueling two-a-days and the beautiful Hamilton scenery.

The 24-year-old signed a contract extension with the Ticats in December after starting 16 games at receiver for Hamilton in 2019, recording 57 receptions for 701 yards and three touchdowns on 71 targets. The six-foot-two, 190-pound target led all eligible CFL rookie pass catchers in targets, receptions and receiving yards last season. 

The Ticats signed Acklin in March 2019 after he attended training camp in 2018 with the Ravens. Baltimore released him near the end of August due to a hip injury. After sitting out the season, Hamilton provided the chance for the Western Illinois product to prove what he could do in the pros.

Acklin was part of a dynamic Ticats’ passing attack led by quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans along with play-makers Brandon Banks and Bralon Addison. That group helped the Tabbies lead the league in points scored a year ago with 551 or 30.6 per game. Hamilton has secured Acklin who ranked third on the team in receiving yards during the Ticats’ dominant 15-3 campaign.

While medieval castle romance and reality TV stardom may be enticing, taking another crack at a Grey Cup with Hamilton was the easy choice.

“I was made for that show. But I’d much rather be in Hamilton working with my teammates than on a reality TV show. I’m so glad to get back to play,” Acklin said.

True love will just have to wait.