To­liver joins the Ti­cat core

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

Ter­rence To­liver is of­fi­cially one of the cool kids.

The Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats of­fi­cially an­nounced a con­tract ex­ten­sion for the lanky re­ceiver on Mon­day, lock­ing him up for the next two sea­sons. It’s the lat­est in a string of sign­ings by vice-pres­i­dent of football op­er­a­tions and head coach Kent Austin aimed at build­ing a nu­cleus of tal­ent for the club, veteran play­ers who have proved their met­tle both on the field and in the locker-room.

On that list: quar­ter­backs Zach Col­laros and Jeremiah Ma­soli, line­backer Si­moni Lawrence, re­ceivers Luke Tasker and Bran­don Banks, de­fen­sive backs Craig But­ler and Court­ney Stephen, de­fen­sive tackle Ted Lau­rent, of­fen­sive line­men Mike Filer and Ryan Bomben. And now To­liver. “With­out a doubt. We want con­sis­tency and con­ti­nu­ity, es­pe­cially with re­ally good play­ers, play­ers that un­der­stand the culture here,” Austin said.

“The core play­ers that are im­por­tant to our suc­cess we want to make sure we do ev­ery­thing we can to keep those guys. Ter­rence has done a great job learn­ing the of­fence. He’s a good team­mate. He’s a pro.”

The 28-year-old has played two sea­sons with the Ti­cats and had his best year in 2016, mak­ing 65 re­cep­tions for 1,036 yards and nine touch­downs de­spite play­ing in only 13 games.

At six-foot-five, he presents a match up prob­lem for the typ­i­cally un­der­sized CFL de­fen­sive back and has evolved from a bound­ary wide re­ceiver to a guy who can play mul­ti­ple spots in Austin’s of­fence.

“You have to learn the wag­gle, how you fit in the of­fence whether you’re play­ing W, the F, the X, the Y, the Z ... it’s tough,” To­liver said. “It’s my third year and I don’t know ev­ery­thing, still learn­ing.”

To­liver was set to hit free agency for the first time in his CFL ca­reer on Tues­day and many play­ers of his age and skillset will of­ten try for one more NFL shot. To­liver spent time with five dif­fer­ent NFL teams be­fore com­ing to Canada — he says he got some looks this win­ter as well — but has de­cided that he wants to fin­ish his ca­reer play­ing three-down ball.

“I am rul­ing it out. I did my time in the NFL and had some looks this year but I wanted to be where I was com­fort­able,” he said. “I thought the CFL was a great league for me and if I went back to the NFL I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m do­ing. It’s more re­lax­ing. The NFL is a lit­tle up­tight.”

To­liver’s deal is re­ported to be in the $150,000 per year range and in­cludes some play time and per­for­mance in­cen­tives, not sur­pris­ing given that he’s missed 10 games due to in­jury dur­ing his time with the Ti­cats. That’s good CFL money but po­ten­tially less than he might have got­ten had he elected to hit the open mar­ket. But like a num­ber of the core group Austin’s as­sem­bled, he took less to stay in Hamil­ton. “I was one of the pri­or­i­ties and I felt that,” he said. “I be­lieve that you have to earn your spot on this team and I be­lieve that I’ve done that.” NOTES: The Ti­cats have agreed to terms with Cana­dian re­ceiver Gio­vanni Aprile. The 27-year-old was set to be­come a free agent on Tues­day but in­stead elected to stay in Hamil­ton, where he has spent the last three sea­sons. He was orig­i­nally ac­quired in a 2014 trade with the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers for de­fen­sive back Matt Buc­knor. Aprile played in eight games last sea­son, mak­ing one catch and adding four spe­cial teams tack­les. He pro­vides veteran Cana­dian depth at a key spot for the Ti­cats — they’ve started two na­tion­als at re­ceiver for much of the last few sea­sons — and may see his role ex­pand next sea­son with the in­jury to Andy Fan­tuz (who is a pend­ing free agent) . ... Austin said the team is work­ing hard to re-sign Fan­tuz, who suf­fered a torn ACL in Oc­to­ber. “We’re try­ing to do some­thing cre­ative with Andy. He’s go­ing to be out awhile but we cer­tainly want him back. We think he’s a valu­able mem­ber of our football team.” ... Ex­pect all-star de­fen­sive back Emanuel Davis to ex­plore free agency, though both sides re­main open to a re­turn to Hamil­ton.

PETER POWER, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Hamil­ton’s Ter­rence To­liver hauls this one in against Ot­tawa on Oct. 14, 2016. The wide re­ceiver has signed for two years with the Ti­cats.

PETER POWER, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats’ Ter­rence To­liver (80) goes high to make a catch while be­ing de­fended by Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers de­fen­sive back Te­vaughn Camp­bell (26) on Aug. 20, 2016.

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