The Hamilton Tiger-Cats drafted Canadian receiver Samuel Giguère in 2008, and then patiently waited and kept in touch. That patience has finally paid off, and the timing couldn't be better.
The Ticats signed Giguère on Wednesday, adding a valuable piece to a compelling group of receivers heavy on non-import talent.
The 5-foot-11, 218-pound native of Sherbrooke has spent the last four seasons trying to make it in the NFL, battling on the practice rosters of the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, since he was selected by the Ticats with the eighth-overall pick in the CFL draft.
Giguère signed with the Colts as a free agent in April of 2008. He saw action in only one game with Indianapolis, in which he returned five kickoffs for 122 yards. Giguère joined the Giants in October of 2010, serving on their practice roster for the rest of the season before being waived during 2011 training camp.
The University of Sherbrooke all-star pursued the NFL tirelessly. He ran routes for Giants quarterback Eli Manning in informal passing camps last spring during the lockout. He ran out of scout team eligibility, so his only hopes of playing in the NFL had to come on an active roster, but no one signed him.
In his stellar three-year CIS career, Giguère caught 94 passes for 1,950 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was named a first-team all-Canadian in 2007. The speedy athlete also competed on Sherbrooke's track-and-field team as a sprinter and shot putter.
The 26-year-old adds to Hamilton's arsenal of Canadian receivers, which includes Dave Stala and Andy Fantuz, the prize of CFL free agency this winter. The team could, conceivably, have three non-import receivers on the field at once.
"We drafted him when I first got to Hamilton as a future guy, and now the future has become the present," Ticats vice-president of football operations Bob O'Billovich said. "This gives our coaches great flexibility and options to see if there is a possibility of playing three Canadian receivers as starters, and that allows you to play an American somewhere else."
Ticats quarterback Henry Burris recently spoke to Giguère and tried to convince him that he should play in the CFL now, rather than sitting out to wait on the NFL.
"Ever since I got drafted by the Tiger-Cats, I've been following the club, and I was well-aware of all the changes [including acquiring Burris in the off-season] and it has me really excited," Giguère said. "We have a great receiving corps here. I can't wait to meet them and start catching balls from Henry."
O'Billovich had been in contact with Giguère's agent for years, keeping tabs on the player's efforts. He had a strong feeling it was a matter of time until Giguère landed in Hamilton, so he was willing to remain patient and diligent.
"The timing is really good for us," O'Billovich said. "We just compiled a young receiving corps [including imports Chris Williams, Bakari Grant and Aaron Kelly]that is ready to bust out. Now with some experience behind it, and adding a guy like Sam to the group, I think it will bode well and mean a lot more wins."