A pair of Ticats draft picks scored their first career touchdowns in Week 2 in Toronto.
Nikola Kalinic and Maleek Irons are two different types of players, who have quickly made the adjustment to professional football.
The Ticats selected Kalinic in the second round, tenth overall out of York University and a video of his friends reacting to the selection quickly went viral after the selection was announced.
“Those are my boys.” Said Kalinic. “I told them to be ready, because I knew it was going to happen at some point.”
Kalinic is a bit of a Swiss army knife for the Ticats. He is listed as a fullback but he roams all over the field on offence. Sometimes at receiver, sometimes at tight end. He also factors in on special teams.
His first touchdown came against the Argos in week two. Jeremiah Masoli dropped back, and was quickly met by two defenders. With pressure in his face, Masoli threw the ball while falling backwards. Kalinic made the catch right at the 15 yard line.
“I was just thinking: Get in the end zone.” Said Kalinic when asked what was going through his mind when he caught the ball.
Kalinic turned his 6’2 246 pound frame up field and only had one man to beat.
“Coach O talks a lot about making your play, and I knew in that moment that was my play. I just had to get into the end zone.”
Argo linebacker Ian Wild was the only man between Kalinic and his first CFL score. Wild made a diving effort at the goal line but bounced off Kalinic and Big Serb had his first career touchdown.
“It was a dream come true. A lot of hard work, dedication and a lot of debt to a lot of people made this come true.” Said Kalinic, who got his first professional score in his hometown.
His friends replicated their draft day antics. This time it was at BMO Field. About ten or so black and gold 84 Kalinic jerseys went wild after the score, beginning to jump and chant. Their hero even joined them in the crowd after the game. A moment that was captured by TSN.
“Those are my best friends all my buddies from high school, elementary school. They’ve been supporting me since day one so it was amazing to share that with them.”
Kalinic says he kept the ball from his first touchdown, and plans to set it up in a nice display case.
The Ticats selected Maleek Irons in the third round, 22nd overall back in May’s CFL Draft. Irons is a 6’0 220 pound power-running back out of Ohio University.
So far, he has been used mostly as a complimentary back to Sean Thomas Erlington, but he has enjoyed some success in the role.
Like Kalinic, the Chilliwack BC native got his first major in Week 2 in Toronto.
Irons came into the game, with the ball at the Argo’s 18 yard line. He immediately got the ball. A 13 yard run, to the Argo’s five. He got back to the huddle and heard his number called again.
“I wouldn’t say a lot was going through my mind.” Said Irons of when he heard his number called. “You get into this robot mode where you just run the plays over and over again. Let’s just get into the end zone. Whoever gets in, gets in.”
Irons got the ball again. He was met by a wall of Argos. All five members of the Ticats’ offensive line got behind Irons and pushed the pile into the end zone.
“It was exciting. It was a good feeling to get in there.” Said Irons. “It was the first of many hopefully and I’m happy I got to share it with my team.”
When it comes to his first touchdown ball, Irons says he didn’t keep it, but plans to keep his first starting touchdown ball.
“I just hugged my linemen, and jogged off. That’s about it.”
Both Kalinic and Irons have bright careers ahead of them. It will surely be exciting to watch them grow in the black and gold.