The Toronto Argonauts look to secure first in the East Division with young players like Kurleigh Gittens Jr. providing a spark.
Going into this season, it was made known the work the Toronto Argonauts front office put in to ensure the team strengthened its Canadian talent.
This was evident with the players that they added in free agency but this season especially, it feels like the contributions from their draft picks have been overshadowed. Without their Canadian draft picks filling in at important positions, it would have been tough to see the Argos in the position they are right now.
On the offensive side of the ball, centre Peter Nicastro has earned praise from Ryan Dinwiddie for taking on a tough position as he moved from guard to centre early in the season. He’s not the only one carving out a role in this offence as receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. has grown in his second CFL season especially over the last few games.
The Argos took the Ottawa native in the third round of the 2019 CFL Draft and only caught one pass in his rookie season while seeing some time as a returner on special teams. This season has been a different story for the 24-year-old as he has taken advantage of the opportunities that have come his way.
Gittens has been targeted 49 times making 38 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns. That has him just second in receiving yards behind Ricky Collins Jr. and just ahead of DaVaris Daniels which is impressive considering both Collins and Daniels are experienced in many ways.
"“Kurleigh has had the ability to do that all season so we’ve tried to do move him around to get him more touches in different positions,” head coach Dinwiddie said about the young receiver. “He’s been improving each year. There were some things we were trying to fix with him early on with some of his double moves as he was looking a little stiff on some of them but now he makes them all look the same.”"
Kurleigh Gittens Jr. believes this is just the beginning to his career with the Toronto Argonauts
The Argos have a strong contingent of Canadian receivers led by Juwan Brescacin who they signed in free agency and the team also drafted Dejon Brissett second overall and Tommy Nield in the fourth round. Even with that competition, Gittens hasn’t let that get in his way.
While he has been happy with his production this season especially against the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he had over 100 yards in both games, he is always looking to find ways to improve.
"“It’s about what I can do in the next game as I can always build on what I did before,” Gittens explained. “I’m trying to be the best football player that I can be by being open to criticism, being able to grow individually and in my mind, the opportunities are endless for me.”"
He’s built a great rapport with quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and with just three games left in the regular season, he along with the rest of the offence will continue to work on their execution which has come into question at times.
Given the steps he’s taken this season, the Argos will continue to look Gurleigh’s way on the field.
What are your thoughts on Gittens’ play this season? Can he carve out a bigger role in the offence going forward? Let us know in the comments below.