Ticats' receivers set to shine on CFL's biggest stage
Brandon Banks put on another show in the Eastern Final on Sunday. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver finished the team’s 36-16 win over the Edmonton Eskimos with four receptions for 100 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown grab.
Banks is the face of the Ticats’ franchise, and the East Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player, as they head into the 107th Grey Cup.
But he’s far from the only weapon for quarterback Dane Evans as the Ticats prepare for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday, with the Canadian Football League championship on the line. The Ticats have enjoyed a plethora of playmaking pass-catchers all season long.
Overshadowed by Banks’ must-see catches in the Eastern Final was Bralon Addison, who led the team in receiving in the win with seven receptions for 130 yards. It was the sixth game Addison has finished with the most receiving yards for the Ticats this season, trailing only Banks’ nine games.
And while Banks led the league in receiving with 1,550 yards, Addison wasn’t far behind, fifth in the league with 1,236 yards. Addison joined the Ticats late last season after being cut by the Toronto Argonauts, and has been an impact player for Hamilton from early on. The 26-year-old joined Banks as an East Division All-Star at receiver.
Luke Tasker joins Banks as the veterans of the Ticats’ receiving corps, with both joining the team in 2013. While injuries have hampered Tasker’s productivity this season – he missed nine games to shoulder and hamstring injuries and finished the season only fifth on the team in receiving with 36 receptions for 406 yards – Tasker is healthy heading into Grey Cup Sunday.
The 28-year-old was a CFL All-Star last season after finishing with 78 receptions for 1,104 yards and a league-leading 11 touchdowns (tied with Banks and current Buffalo Bills wide receiver Duke Williams). A healthy Tasker is an all-star calibre receiver: he’s been named an East Division All-Star in every season he’s played 14 or more games (2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018).
The Ticats added talented rookie Jaelon Acklin to their receiving corps this season. Acklin signed with the Ticats ahead of training camp and started most of the season at wide receiver, earning more targets when Tasker was on the shelf. Acklin finished the regular season with 58 receptions for 708 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that match up with East Division Most Outstanding Rookie Jake Wieneke of the Montreal Alouettes, who finished the year with 41 receptions for 569 yards and eight touchdowns.
Providing the Canadian content in the Ticats’ receiving corps is Mike Jones. The 2016 third-round pick finished the regular season with 22 receptions for 319 yards. Jones is a year removed from a 49-reception, 841-yard season.
Despite an injury to starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli midway through the year, the Ticats finished first in the league in offence (395.8 yards per game), scoring offence (28.2 points per game), and passing offence (313.3 yards per game). Evans proved to be a star in the making taking over Masoli, but the team’s star-studded receiving corps deserves some credit for their role in maintaining a top offence.