Hamilton Tiger-Cats make 4 new defensive signings


Published March 3, 2023 at 1:33 pm

Four newcomers on the defensive side of the ball are en route to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, including two who have had looks from NFL teams and one who has a tie to an established contributor.

The CFL club and 2023 Grey Cup host announced the signings of defensive back Kenneth George Jr., linebacker Jaxson Turner and defensive linemen Nyles Pinckney and TJ Johnson.

Here is the skinny on each player:

  • Kenneth George Jr. (pictured) is a 25-year-old defensive back who originally signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent and also spent time in the XFL with the Houston Roughnecks. The 6-foot, 194-pound Lafayette, La., native was primarily a cornerback and also played nickelback for the Tennessee Volunteers in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference (SEC), which has produced the last four College Football Playoff champions. George played 33 games over four seasons (2018-21) with the Vols, registering 52 total tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, 10 pass deflections and one interception.
  • Jaxson Turner, who is also 25, played 49 games across five seasons (2017-21) with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. Turner was a teammate for three seasons (’17-19) alongside Mason Bennett, who shared the Tiger-Cats’ team lead in quarterback sacks in 2022. Turner, who is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound native of Esko, Minn., tallied 202 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback sacks, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, eight pass deflections and one interception at North Dakota. Like George, Turner gained seasoning playing against teams with national championship aspirations. The Fighting Hawks’ cross-state rival North Dakota State won 4-of-5 Football Championship Subdivision national titles from 2017-21. Another Missouri Valley Conference rival, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, won the 2022 FCS title and were runner-up in the COVID-delayed ’20 season.
  • Pinckney, 24, played 13 games in one season with the Big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers (2021), registering 29 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. The six-foot-one, 295-pound native of Beaufort, S.C., also contributed to the Clemson Tigers having a CFP-winning 15-0 season in 2018. In 55 games over four seasons (2017-20) with Clemson, Pinckney totalled 81 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback sacks, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries, and contributed to the Tigers winning the CFP title in 2018. He also attended rookie camp with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints in 2022.
  • Johnson, also 24, played 26 games over three seasons (’19-21) with the Marshall Thundering Herd, a Group of Five-calibre team. At Marshall, the 6-foot-5, 268-pound Johnson registering 53 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, six quarterback sacks, three pass knockdowns and one forced fumble.The Southfield, Mich., native also spent two seasons at the junior college level with the Independence (Kan.) Pirates while the school was featured in seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s Last Chance U. Johnson also spent time in the USFL with the New Orleans Breakers.
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