Ticats to start rookie Darius Ciraco at guard against Stampders

They traded up to pluck him out of Alberta and just six weeks later they’re flying him back there as a starter.

Darius Ciraco, the pride of Burlington Assumption, returns to Calgary where he played his university ball as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ starting right guard for Saturday night’s season-opening engagement with the Stampeders.

“I really like Ciraco,” head coach June Jones said Thursday, confirming what the untrained eye had seen all week in practice: Ciraco moves into the right side between centre Mike Filer and tackle Ryker Mathews. Jones said that veteran Landon Rice, who’d started training camp as the No. 1, would also play guard, as well as some tight end Saturday.  Mathieu Girard, who came out of retirement to challenge for a guard spot, is injured.

Ciraco had an impressive university career with the Calgary Dinos, playing centre, guard and tackle. It was that versatility that prompted the night-before trade with Edmonton, moving the Ticats’ second pick of May’s CFL draft from 10th to 6th overall.

Neither the Ticats nor receiver Mark Chapman’s camp are crossing their very deep line in the sand, keeping the No. 1 overall pick unsigned. So Ciraco’s rapid ascension to replace traded all-star Ryan Bomben throws some rays of right-now positivity on the Ticats’ first-round decisions.

Defensive back Jackson Bennett, No.11 overall, has also impressed in recent days and will work special teams and add depth to SAM linebacker and safety next week in Alberta.

Ciraco is looking forward to his return to the foothills.

“It’s going to be amazing,” the 22-year-old says. “I was there the last four years and have a bunch of friends there. I’m excited to go back and see my girlfriend out there.”

Ciraco, who played the entire game at centre in the exhibition game in Montreal last week and looked solid, has drawn first reps at guard all week.

“He’s played a lot of games in there,” Jones says of the rookie’s return to McMahon Stadium. “I don’t know if he’s ever been in the visiting locker room though.”

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (149 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

21 Comments on Ticats to start rookie Darius Ciraco at guard against Stampders

  1. I’m sure Landon Rice can’t be pleased but very good for Ciraco though.

  2. Lindsay Wilcox // June 14, 2018 at 5:14 pm // Reply

    If Landon Rice lines up at TE, watch for passes to him a la Bomben

  3. What the heck? You can get starting O Linemen from the Canadian draft? Is this legal? why don’t the riders do this?

    • They did – they drafted Shepley. Only problem is he’ll probably be starting in the NFL instead of with the Riders! 🙂

    • All teams are snapping up O-linemen, the problems is there are not enough of them. Every year the majority of draft picks are O-linemen but most will not start in their first year. Ravenberg was a 1st round pick in 2016 and didn’t start until 2017, and he was the ONLY 1st rounder in the past 2 seasons to become a starter.

      The CFL must reduce the ratio – it’s not working.

      • You have to learn how to spell – it’s not working . The man’s name is Revenberg ! Your ratio opinion is about as valid as your command of the language .

      • Jeffrey Pedler // June 16, 2018 at 1:34 am // Reply

        Revenburg started his rookie season. He is the reason they released Peter Dyakowski that offseaon.

  4. danceofthedamed // June 14, 2018 at 7:29 pm // Reply

    Ohhh Noooo. The TiCats are desperately thin on the O-Line and have no Canadian talent, they are destined for a 0-18 season. They are razor thin everywhere at CDN talent . Jones is a fool, management inept and the mascot is too blame.

    • Have you looked at their roster lately because they have at least a dozen OL players listed and only about 3-4 of them are American! They have plenty of depth on the OL and most are capable of starting.

      • I doubt that “most” are capable of starting. They started 3 Canadians and 2 Americans on the O-line last season. With the lack of Canadian receivers this year it’s likely they will go with an All-American receiving corps. Last season they were starting Chambers and Fantuz – this season, no capable starters.
        The Ticats like all teams are snapping up O-linemen, it’s a non-talent Canadian position, if you can get 10 Canadian O-linemen on your roster then it means you only have to find 11 more positions on the roster.

    • Too much gin…right? Oh yeah, I believe you mean your name to be spelled “danceofthedamned”.

  5. Is June Junes making us a team or are the fans getting snake oil as the miracle elixir with Johnny and his sexy wife on the bottle.

  6. Cats are sneakin up on everybody with a knock out team!

  7. Love it! Go Ciraco!

  8. Are Mark Champman and his agent high? Sign already. Champman already has placed himself in a terrible position. Doesn’t he realise he hasn’t proven a single thing in the CFL yet? Actually has ZERO CATCHES!

    • His numbers in the NCAA are not spectacular, if his mother had not been born in Canada he likely wouldn’t have been given a tryout with a CFL team.
      We make a mediocre receiver the #1 pick just because of the ratio? yet we will sign NCAA receivers with better stats who are capable of starting for minimum wage?
      The ratio is just ridiculous, it worked years ago when we had a lot of Canadians playing football and CIS players were given a chance to play pro.
      Now we bend the rules to get more talent in the league because there is a lack of CIS talent.

      • Any college stats are meaningless here.

        How many NCAA stars have come to this league and failed??

        PROVE your worth….then ask for more money…

  9. How does a conversation about a rookie national O’line starter for the Ticats turn into a chat about the Melonheads? Stay on topic boys! I think the Cats see Revenberg2 in Ciraco, and the reason why Bomben was traded. If he turns out to be a reliable starter who can play more than one spot on the O/line, kudos to the Cats management for drafting wisely! As a said a week ago, if Chaoman thinks he’s got an NFL offer coming, what are him and his agent smoking? He’s small for the NFL, and the Cats own him – just the way it is…

  10. Ron Tuthill // June 15, 2018 at 12:44 pm // Reply

    Ravenberg started in 2016 out of necessity because of injury at right guard, right tackle and at centre. With Rice at Tight End that probably means more protection for the QB like he played last season. At 6.6 and 317 I don’t think he will be asked to catch a pass.

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