Ticats expect former first overall CFL draft pick Jake Burt to be ready for training camp

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats expect tight end Jake Burt, the first overall pick in the 2021 CFL Draft, to be ready for training camp next month.

“Jake should be well-rested and we’ve had some back-and-forth conversation and from all indications he’s going to be ready to go, so we’re excited for that. He looked great in his first little bit of camp last year and then a lot of unfortunate things unfolded,” said head coach and president of football operations Orlondo Steinauer via videoconference.

The six-foot-three, 230-pounder missed the entire 2021 season due to a quad injury. He was placed on the one-game injured list for Hamilton’s first seven regular season games before being moved to the six-game injured list for the latter half of the season.

Hamilton lost Nikola Kalinic to the NFL in January when the former second-round pick signed with the Indianapolis Colts. The York University product was a strong contributor over two seasons with the Ticats, making 23 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns as well as 11 special teams tackles.

Kalinic’s departure should help Burt carve out a substantial role on offence and special teams, but Steinauer doesn’t want the former top draft pick to try to be anybody other than himself.

“(I want him to) just bring what Jake Burt brings to the table. We don’t want anybody else to fill anybody else’s shoes. We want them to bring their skillset and bring it consistently and that will enable us to coach around it and give ourselves the best opportunity to win,” said Steinauer.

Burt has a lot of versatility, possessing the size to play tight end or fullback and the speed to be a receiver. With Hamilton likely to start a Canadian slotback — they signed Lemar Durant following his release from the B.C. Lions — it’s possible Burt will be a rotational player at the position.

The 25-year-old spent the 2020 season on the practice roster with the New England Patriots before being a late addition to the 2021 CFL Draft class. Though he was born in Regina, Burt was primarily raised in Boston and attended Boston College (2015-19) where he caught 23 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

Burt missed the entire 2016 season with the Eagles due to a torn ACL and suffered a broken collarbone in November 2019. He was the first tight end taken with the first pick in the CFL draft since Gerald Wilcox was taken by Ottawa Rough Riders in 1989 out of Weber State University.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.