Family tree of Riders’ hopeful has deep roots in football
VERO BEACH, FLA. Football runs in Mitchell Baines’ family.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver is one of three footballplaying Baines brothers.
Jarryd Baines, 27, was a linebacker for five seasons with the University of Guelph. He was also a member of the Riders’ operations staff in 2014 and 2015 and is now the offensive quality control coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Riley, 23, is a second-year linebacker with the Gryphons.
Mitchell, 25, spent five seasons with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees before signing with the Roughriders in February.
“Sports has been pretty much everything in my family,’’ Mitchell Baines said last week during the Riders’ mini-camp at Historic Dodgertown. “We all played hockey and baseball and then we transitioned from baseball to football. Football is our biggest sport, but sports were pretty much our whole identity.’’
Baines has juggled football and looking after his eight-year old son, Carter, born when his father was in Grade 11. Baines has cared for Carter, with the assistance from his parents Tim and Kelly-Anne, through high school and university. (Tim Baines covers the CFL for the Ottawa Citizen and Sun.)
“It’s tough to find time to lift weights and all of that,’’ Mitchell Baines said. “Still, doing that nearly all of my life really helped me out now because the pressure doesn’t get to me. It has been very cool and I love that kid more than anything.’’
The Riders signed Baines after he wasn’t selected in the 2015 or 2016 CFL drafts after stellar university seasons, but takes being overlooked in stride.
“At this point there isn’t any use dwelling on it,’’ Baines said. “You just have to move forward and that’s what I did. I worked harder because I wasn’t drafted.’’
In 2016, he was named a second team all-Canadian and first-team OUA all-star after leading the nation with 65 receptions and 984 yards and ranking third with eight touchdown catches.
“He was a guy we monitored throughout the CIS season,’’ said Jeremy O’Day, the Riders’ assistant vice-president of football operations and administration. “One of the things we do a great deal of is watch those fifth-year guys who are undrafted. Essentially, they could turn into free draft picks.’’
The efforts of the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Baines were noticed. Riders head coach and general manager Chris Jones said that Baines reminded him of Regina product Jason Clermont, a bruising receiver who starred with the B.C. Lions before finishing his career in Saskatchewan.
“That’s just massive because I would never expect to be compared to someone as great as Clermont,’’ Baines said.