Mitch Pic­ton re­turns to Regina Rams

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - ROB VANSTONE rvan­stone@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/rob­van­stone

Mitch Pic­ton used train­ing camp to pre­pare for train­ing camp.

Pic­ton, a star slot­back with the Univer­sity of Regina Rams, prac­tised with and played for the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers in the spring be­fore be­ing re­turned to the Canada West ranks for a fifth and fi­nal year at that level.

“It was a hec­tic sum­mer,” Pic­ton says in ad­vance of Saturday’s game against the Univer­sity of Al­berta Golden Bears (2 p.m., Mo­saic Sta­dium). “It was busy and pretty tough on the body, but it was fun. I wouldn’t trade it for any­thing in the world.

“It was a busy sum­mer full of foot­ball, so what could be bet­ter?”

Pic­ton joined the Roughrid­ers af­ter they se­lected him in the fifth round (37th over­all) of the 2017 CFL draft. Saskatchewan drafted Pic­ton af­ter he caught 58 passes for 830 yards and 11 touch­downs in eight reg­u­lar-sea­son games in 2016.

So far this sea­son, Pic­ton has 13 catches for 206 yards and one TD for the Rams (1-1). He has noticed a dif­fer­ence in his play due to the train­ing camp stint.

“Any­time you play at such a high level, like at train­ing camp, you’re go­ing to pick up lit­tle things from the guys who are around you that you’re play­ing with,” Pic­ton says.

“Work­ing with guys like Rob Bagg and Naa­man Roo­sevelt, it was amaz­ing just be­ing in the film room and at prac­tice with them, look­ing at lit­tle things that they do on and off the field to be­come a bet­ter foot­ball player.

“That’s some­thing that has def­i­nitely helped me out and I think I’m a bet­ter player be­cause of it. There’s some lit­tle things that I learned in Rider camp that I’m def­i­nitely us­ing in my game now.”

Pic­ton at­tended Roughrid­ers camp with the in­ten­tion and hope of re­main­ing with the CFL team, which had the con­ve­nient op­tion of hav­ing him fin­ish his U Sports el­i­gi­bil­ity close to home.

“I knew what the op­tions were and what they could do, but I felt I had a good train­ing camp,” Pic­ton says. “I thought I was com­pet­ing. Hon­estly, I was happy with what­ever the out­come was.

“There re­ally wasn’t a bad re­sult. I just went out there and every day tried to be bet­ter than the last and do what­ever I could to make the foot­ball team, be­cause that’s ul­ti­mately what I was there to do.”

That said, Pic­ton is de­lighted to be back with the Rams — whose start­ing quar­ter­back, 2016 Hec Crighton Tro­phy re­cip­i­ent Noah Pic­ton, is Mitch’s cousin.

“It’s great. It feels like home,” Mitch Pic­ton says. “I’m play­ing with all my friends again. Ob­vi­ously, com­ing back and play­ing an­other year with Noah is great for me. I love play­ing with him. There’s no­body bet­ter that I could ask for to play with. Hav­ing an­other year with him is huge and it means a lot to both of us.”

The Pic­tons have been team­mates through­out their foot­ball ca­reers, be­gin­ning with Regina Mi­nor Foot­ball’s atom Bears.

“Any mean­ing­ful passes that I’ve ever caught, they’ve all been from Noah for my en­tire ca­reer — from the day we started un­til now,” Mitch says. “We’re com­ing up on 13, 14 years. We’ve built up some pretty good chem­istry.”

Per­haps the col­lab­o­ra­tion will con­tinue be­yond this sea­son.

“That would be in­cred­i­ble,” Mitch says. “Some­body at the next level has got to give Noah a shot. With the things he has done and the kind of player he is, some­body’s got to take a chance on him. Who­ever does is go­ing to be get­ting a hell of a player.”

KAYLE NEIS

Univer­sity of Regina Rams slot­back Mitch Pic­ton says he’s ap­ply­ing some of the lessons he learned at the Rid­ers train­ing camp..

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