Hamilton Tiger-Cats sign Global punter Blake Hayes, release Canadian kicker Dante Brown

Photo courtesy: University of Illinois

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have signed Global punter Blake Hayes and released Canadian kicker/punter Dante Brown.

The 23-year-old Hayes was selected by the Ticats in the second round, 10th overall in the 2022 Canadian Football League Global Draft. The six-foot-six, 225-pound native of Melbourne, Australia played 57 games over five seasons (2017-2021) at the University of Illinois.

Hayes is Illinois’ all-time record holder in single-season punts inside the 20, single-season percentage of punts inside the 20, single-season 50-plus yard punts, career punting average, career punt yards, career punts inside the 20 and career 50-plus yard punts. He was the 2019 Big Ten Punter of the Year and named to the All-Big Ten first team in 2019.

Brown, who was selected by Edmonton in the fifth round, 41st overall in the 2020 CFL Draft, signed with the Ticats in January.

The five-foot-10, 185-pound native of Mississauga, Ontario played three seasons at Fort Hays State University (2017-2019), converting 47-of-56 field goal attempts (83.9 percent) with a career long of 56 yards. The 24-year-old spent 2021 with the Elks on their practice roster.

Brown had been in a competition with Canadian Michael Domagala and Global newcomer Tadhg Leader for Hamilton’s vacant placekicker position. Brown had struggled with consistency during the first week of training camp, which likely led to his release.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.