February 19, 2016

Former ‘Cats congregate in Calgary

THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY — Bakari Grant has a number of connections on the Calgary Stampeders.

For starters, the Red and White’s newest receiver comes to town accompanied by linebacker Taylor Reed, his teammate in Hamilton the past two seasons.

For another, Grant over the years has often been an off-season workout partner of Stamps defensive back and fellow Oakland-area native Brandon Smith (incidentally, retiring Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was also part of their workout crew).

But perhaps the most noteworthy ties between Grant and his new team are the traces of Black and Gold in the Red and White’s receiving corps. Grant becomes the third former member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to join Pete Costanza’s corps of pass-catchers as he joins Marquay McDaniel and Simon Charbonneau-Campeau.

The three receivers all started their CFL careers in Hamilton but they all came to Calgary in different ways — McDaniel was signed a free agent after being released by Hamilton, Charbonneau-Campeau was acquired via trade and Grant was signed as an off-season free agent on Wednesday, the day after his contract with the Tabbies officially expired.

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Adam Gagnon/CFL

Grant arrives with rave reviews from the receivers with whom he is being reunited.

“A good dude,” reports McDaniel. “He’s a real pro on and off the field. He was an all-star a couple of years ago and I know he’s been nicked up a bit the last couple of years but now that he’s healthy again, he’s a veteran who can help us.”

“It’s one thing to be a good player with skill,” says Charbonneau-Campeau, “and Bakari does have ability, but more than that he gives you everything he’s got it. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does and will fight for the extra yard and block. He’s a great team player.”

McDaniel was released from the Ticats in 2011, the same season Grant started in Hamilton. The two events were not related — they lined up at different receiver positions — and as a matter of fact, McDaniel and Grant were roommates until the former joined the Stampeders practice roster later that season.

“He’s a scrappy player,” says McDaniel. “He’s tall and thin, but he’ll get in there and mix it up.”

“Dave (Dickenson) is going to love him,” predicts Charbonneau-Campeau, referring to the Stamps new head coach. “He’s got a great attitude, he works hard and he’s a productive receiver.”

“He’s got a great attitude, he works hard and he’s a productive receiver.”

This marks the second consecutive off-season the Stamps have suffered high-profile losses to their receiving corps. A year ago, it was Nik Lewis, Maurice Price and Brad Sinopoli. This year, it’s NFL-bound Eric Rogers and Jeff Fuller.

“As the veteran who’s been around the longest, it’s up to me to become a leader with this group,” says McDaniel. “But I’m certainly not the only one. Anthony Parker is a young guy but he’s been around for four or five years, so I consider him a veteran. This will be Simon’s third year with the Stamps. Joe West has been around for a while, too.

“This is a good group.”