Ticats sign four, including former Last Chance U DE T.J. Johnson

Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Terrance Williams

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have signed four Americans, including defensive lineman TaMarion “T.J.” Johnson.

Johnson most recently spent time with the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers, recording seven tackles. The Marshall product spent three collegiate seasons with the Thundering Herd, amassing 53 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback sacks, three pass knockdowns and one forced fumble in 26 games.

The six-foot-five, 268-pound edge rusher previously attended Independence Community College for two seasons, where he appeared in seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s popular docu-series Last Chance U.

The native of Southfield, Michigan spent one year at the University of Minnesota in 2016 but was expelled from the school along with three other athletes following an investigation into an alleged group sexual assault. Six other players were issued suspensions or probation for the alleged incident, leading to the firing of head coach Tracy Claeys.

Criminal charges were not laid and the allegations have never been proven in court. Nine of the affected players filed a lawsuit claiming racial and gender discrimination by the institution but that case was officially dismissed in January.

Also signed were defensive back Kenneth George Jr., linebacker Jaxson Turner and defensive lineman Nyles Pinckney.

George Jr. played four seasons at the University of Tennessee (2018-21), recording 52 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, 10 pass deflections and one interception in 33 games. The six-foot, 194-pound cornerback signed Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2022 and also spent time with the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks.

Turner registered 202 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback sacks, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, eight pass deflections and one interception in 49 games over five seasons at the University of North Dakota (2017-21),  The six-foot-two, 225-pound backer earned honourable mention All-MVFC honours as a senior in 2021.

Pinckney played 13 games for the University of Minnesota in 2021, registering 29 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble and earning a rookie mini-camp invite from the New Orleans Saints. The six-foot-one, 295-pound defensive tackle spent the previous four seasons at Clemson University, where he totalled 81 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback sacks, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries in 55 games.