Rangy Ticats receiver Bakari Grant is proving he can be a dangerous pass-catcher in the Canadian Football League.
Halfway through his third CFL season, Grant has already set a new career-high for receiving yards with 583, a number that puts him on pace to go over the 1,000-yard receiving benchmark.
“Every receiver in this league wants to be one of the top in the CFL,” Grant said. “I would definitely be proud of that [reaching the 1,000 yard mark].
There are a couple main reasons why the 6-foot-4 pass target has taken his game to new levels in 2013. Grant has avoided injury, last year he broke his hand and was out for six weeks. But, maybe most importantly, the 26-year-old has adjusted his eating habits.
“The biggest change I made coming into the season was I paid more attention to my diet,” Grant said.
“I got away from the college diet, I will call it. Meaning pizzas, burgers, pretty much anything I could get my hands on,” Grant explained. “It’s not the best of financial times in college, so you have eat what you have around. I’m a big food guy, so whatever tasted good I was down to eat it.”
Some advice from his veteran quarterback helped push Grant to make the switch and eat healthier.
“I told him the last time I saw Ronald McDonald put on pads, I don’t think it was a good sight,” Burris quipped.
“I told him it was time for him to eat food that actual athletes eat. And, no, Tony the Tiger is not an athlete.”
Grant, like every young CFLer should, listened to his elder and began buying fresh food and preparing it for himself.
“Eating more at home and less fast food was definitely a big part of the last off-season for me,” Grant said. “I try to cook most days of the week and eat at home more so than eating out.”
“I guess that’s the secret you can tell everybody.”
Burris can clearly see how the healthy choices Grant has made off the field have improved his play on it.
“I think that was one of the best moves he could have made,” Hank said. “Bakari has come back playing strong with a lot of power and he is definitely one of the most physical receivers out there.”
Even though Grant has satisfied his hunger, he is still hungry for the football on the field. Burris compared Grant to a hungry dog in the best way possible. When a bone is up for grabs a dog will do anything in its power to get the bone. Just like Grant when the football is in the air.
“He’s an easy receiver to throw to, with his build he knows how to fend off defensive backs, put his body in the right position to make plays,” Burris said. “Then, after he makes the catch he finds ways to get up the field and make more yards.”
Grant has become one of Burris’ favourite and most trusted targets, he has recorded a team-leading 42 catches through nine games.
“He’s been a cornerstone for us this year, we’ve leaned on him a lot,” Burris said. “We’re going to continue to lean on him for the rest of the season.”
Tiger-Cats honour Wildcats
On Saturday afternoon when Hamilton takes the field at Alumni Stadium in Guelph, it won’t be in their familiar Black and Gold attire. Instead the team will celebrate the 1943 Flying Wildcats by wearing throwback uniforms.
Hamilton will be dressed in red jerseys and paints, trimmed with black and white, an admirable way to remember the 1943 Grey Cup championship team.
“It’s a cool way to honour a unique part of our Tiger-Cats history. This is where the Cats came from, going back to the Wildcats days,” Ticats offensive lineman, Peter Dyakowski said.
Big number 67 knows his team history very well and believes wearing the retro uniforms will help educate all who take in the contest.
“A lot of people ask ‘why Tiger-Cats? Where did the Cats come from?’,” Dyakowski said.
Going back in time, during World War II the Hamilton Tigers stopped operations for a couple years due to the war and the Hamilton Wildcats filled the void. Then, after the war, they were competitors in the same city until they merged in 1950. Taking the ‘Tigers’ name and merging it with the ‘Cats’ from ‘Wildcats’ to form the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team the Steel City has supported for the last 60 plus years.
“It’s a really unique period to remember,” Dyakowski said. “The team was renamed the Tiger-Cats and we’ve had that since. A lot of people say ‘why are you called the Tiger-Cats?’ So I tell them the whole story.”
“Everyone will watch the game and say, ‘why red? Or why Wildcats?’ And then they can learn about some Tiger-Cats history, it’s a good educator.”
“Some teams choose their retro jerseys just to sell more merchandise. We do it to educate people.”