CFL’s Ticats sign Canadian Olympic sprinter Akeem Haynes as receiver

Akeem Haynes, left, is joined by (from left to right) Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse after winning bronze in the 4x100-metre relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Frank Gunn/CP)

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats just got a whole lot faster. The team signed Olympic bronze medal-winning sprinter Akeem Haynes to a contract Wednesday.

Haynes was the lead runner for Canada in the men’s 4×100-metre relay at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, alongside Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse, as the four broke a 20-year Canadian record in the event.

The 25-year-old is listed as a wide receiver despite not playing football in college. He did play quarterback, running back and returned kicks in high school but focused solely on track and field when he attended the University of Alabama.

At five-foot-six and 160 pounds — a similar size to current Ticats star Brandon Banks — Haynes will be one of the smallest players in the CFL if he’s able to make the cut and earn a spot on Hamilton’s roster.

The Jamaican-born, Calgary-raised Haynes told the CBC’s Vicki Hall in November he’s looking forward to a new challenge.

“I think a lot of people are afraid to take that next step and afraid to go after what they truly want,” Haynes said. “They’re afraid of what might happen and the possibility that things can go wrong. But if you focus on all the things that can go wrong, you’re going to outthink yourself and talk yourself out of doing what you want to do.”

Haynes’ personal best time in a 100-metre race was the 10.15 seconds he posted at the 2015 Canadian Championships. We’ll soon find out how that speed translates to a football field.

“Obviously when it comes to moving forward north and south, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be the fastest player in the CFL,” Haynes said. “If anyone wants to question that, we can set up a race.”

The Ticats also signed international free agent wide receiver Jamal Robinson on Wednesday.

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