Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats: eight players to watch in the preseason clash

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

It’s sloppy, messy, and sometimes hard to watch, but CFL fans have never been more grateful to see preseason football.

While regular-season games are all about engaging storylines and final scores, the preseason is all about the players. Dozens of future CFL stars will be getting their first taste of the action this weekend but with so many new prospects on every roster, it can be difficult for fans to know who they should have their eyes on.

As always, 3DownNation has done the work for you. We’ll have a list of players to watch ahead of every preseason game in 2022, giving fans — whether in-stadium or watching on TV — an easy cheat sheet to enhance their viewing experience.

Week 1 of the preseason wraps up when the Montreal Alouettes face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you plan to be at Tim Hortons Field, here are the names you need to know.

Montreal Alouettes

Courtesy: AP Photo/Gail Burton

Tyrell Richards, LB, Syracuse

The undisputed first overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, Richards’ freak athleticism gave Danny Maciocia a severe man-crush. The Brampton native can rush off the edge, run sideline to sideline as a linebacker and even drop back in coverage, sure to make him defensive coordinator Barron Miles’ new favourite toy. Preseason will be the first chance for fans to see how the team will deploy Richards and an early benchmark for how soon he might find himself in the defensive rotation.

Josh Harvey-Clemons, DB, Louisville

A former seventh-round pick of the Washington Commanders, Harvey-Clemons posted 42 career tackles in 35 career NFL games. At six-foot-four and 220 pounds, the former five-star college recruit never quite found his fit as an undersized linebacker/box safety south of the border but he’s much better suited for the CFL game. Expect the 28-year-old to fly around like his college days when he gets his chance to play a multitude of positions on the wide-open Canadian field.

Krishawn Hogan, REC, Marian

Odds are you’ve never of tiny Marian University, but it’s best known for a dominant cycling program and Krishawn Hogan. After posting 263 receptions, 4,395 yards receiving, and 67 all-purpose touchdowns in three seasons, the six-foot-three, 220-pound receiver became one of the rare players from the NAIA ranks — a level of college football outside the NCAA — to be invited to the NFL Combine and managed to bounce around the league for five seasons. The 27-year-old is an explosive, physical target who will be extremely difficult for smaller DBs to defend.

Leighton McCarthy, DE, FAU

A 226-pound pass-rushing linebacker with an explosive first step, McCarthy had an exceptional college career with 35 tackles for loss and 20 sacks at FAU. Despite the tweener label, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent last year but team doctors diagnosed him with an aortic aneurysm during his physical, requiring heart surgery. The Alouettes are the launchpad for his unlikely comeback and it could be a perfect fit, given how well his skillset matches the CFL game.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest

Big-name college quarterbacks signing in the CFL usually get a lot of press, but Jamie Newman flew surprisingly under the radar. After a breakout junior season at Wake Forest in 2019, many draft analysts had him pegged as an NFL first-round pick, a status only cemented by his decision to transfer to the powerhouse Georgia Bulldogs. However, Newman gambled on the hype, opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID and forgoing his opportunity with Georgia, and suffered by going undrafted. His limited starting experience means he’s a project, but Newman has elite natural arm talent that jumps off the screen

Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida

A 2019 fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, Joseph arrives in the CFL at just 24-years-old after having never played an NFL game due to injury. In college, the 230-pound linebacker’s playstyle would best be described as “a man possessed” and he showed the ability to make plays anywhere on the field. Though he’s been dinged for mental lapses, if Joseph is as fast and physical in the preseason as he was for the Gators, it will be hard for him not to make the team.

Anthony Johnson, REC, Buffalo

A vertical threat with a big frame, Johnson posted 133 receptions for 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns in two seasons as the best receiver in the Mid-America Conference. The former Bulls standout has reportedly impressed just as much so far in camp and will roll with the starting unit against Montreal, a privilege not granted to any other rookie. In a Ticats’ receiving corps that thrives on speed, he brings a size element that is hard to ignore.

Tre’ Crawford, DE, UAB

Crawford really only had one year of college production, typically a red flag for prospects, but in his defence, it was a hell of a year. The six-foot-one, 230-pounder was a disruptive force in the backfield with 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks for the Blazers, showing the ability to play off-ball linebacker or line up off the edge.  A twitched-up athlete with 4.6-speed and a 42-inch vertical, you wonder how much more Crawford is capable of if he’s truly allowed to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.