Ottawa Redblacks get influx of talent as Shaq Evans, two other all-stars return vs. Ticats

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

The Ottawa Redblacks are already surging and the team is set to get a trio of former all-stars back in the lineup ahead of their clash with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday.

Receiver Shaq Evans (hand), linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox (hamstring), and defensive back Cariel Brooks are all scheduled to make their debuts for the club after being acquired as free agents this offseason — the latter two against their former team.

Evans made 179 receptions for 2,830 yards and seven touchdowns over 52 career CFL games, all with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was named a league all-star in 2019 following a breakout season during which he made 72 catches for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns.

Santos-Knox had a breakout season while playing for the Ticats in 2022, amassing 105 defensive tackles, one sack and one interception over 17 starts at middle linebacker. He was named an East Division all-star for the first time in his career, which has included stops with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Elks.

Brooks was unceremoniously released by Hamilton in February after spending five seasons of his career in black and gold, earning East Division all-star status in 2018 and league-wide honours in 2021. He has recorded 205 tackles, two sacks, 14 interceptions and four forced fumbles in his CFL career.

Evans will take over at receiver for Raphael Leonard, who has been returned to the practice roster, while Santos-Knox assumes the middle linebacker role held by Canadian Adam Auclair. Brooks will begin listed as a backup halfback behind rookie Deandre Lamont, who bumps over from cornerback to replace Damon Webb (shoulder) after he was placed on the one-game injured list. Veteran Sherrod Baltimore will start at field corner.

Also returning to the lineup after one-game absences are American linebacker Gary Johnson Jr. and Canadian running back Jackson Bennett. That bumps fellow running back De’Montre Tuggle and rookie defensive end Aidan John back to the practice roster, while 2023 second-round pick Lucas Cormier will be a healthy scratch.

The Redblacks (3-3) will host the Ticats (2-4) on Friday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. They are currently narrow favourites ().

Photo courtesy: Ottawa Redblacks