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.”
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