TORONTO — He hasn’t ever stepped on a Canadian football field, but Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach June Jones thinks that Johnny Manziel could be the best to ever do so.
“I think he’d be the best player to ever play up here,” Jones said. “He can throw it and he can run it like nobody ever has been able to do.”
Jones told members of the media earlier this week, on a conference call after he signed a three-year deal with the Ticats, that he could see Manziel fitting in perfectly with his team in Hamilton. The Tabbies bench boss continued to express his praise for the quarterback later on in the week to James Cybulski on The Waggle podcast.
“I think he’s a phenomenal player,” said Jones. “I think it was kind of unfortunate what happened to him in the NFL, some of that was by his own means, too. We’ll see. I think he’ll either be with us or he won’t.”
Manziel is currently on the Tiger-Cats negotiation list and last September he worked out with the Ticats. He also attended a meeting with CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie where it was determined that a contract for the former Texas A&M product would not be filed by the league in 2017.
“I would say he was not quite at top shape but I was very, very impressed with his arm strength, his accuracy and that’s what I was concerned about as far as passing,” Jones said after seeing Manziel in action in work outs with the Tiger-Cats. “I saw it in college, I saw it on the film, I saw it against Alabama, I saw it against everybody.
“Even his NFL films to be quite honest. The things that he would do up here, he excelled at at the National Football League level. I think he has a tremendous upside and it really is in his lap to decide if that’s what he wants to do.”
When Jones took over as head coach of the Ticats in late August, he appointed Jeremiah Masoli as the starting quarterback and in turn benched franchise pivot Zach Collaros. Jones mentioned that the team likely wouldn’t be able to keep both Masoli (who is a pending free agent) and Collaros come training camp next year.
If Manziel is added into the mix, there could be a very interesting decision for Hamilton’s coaching staff to make.
“I would see that he would be very competitive, there’s no question about it,” Jones said when asked if Manziel would make the team if he attended a training camp. “I think the world of Jeremiah and I think that Zach is an all-pro quarterback too, as already proven by what he can do. Like I said, you can’t have too many of those guys.
“Once Johnny would get a shot in there I think he’d be hard to unsee.”
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