Jaelon Acklin was headed into his third season at the professional level in 2022. This has notoriously been the year the game starts to slow down for wide receivers. Some may argue the merits of this rule, however, I present to you the 2022 performance of Jaelon Acklin.
Looking back at Acklin’s college career you might not have guessed he would even make it to the professional level. In his first three seasons, 32 games to be exact, he had just 21 receptions for 364 yards and 2 touchdowns. No one would have blamed anyone for not expecting his senior stat line. In 2017 he played in 12 games catching 84 passes for 1,369 yards and 10 touchdowns. If you look at how his college career progressed, it’s not all surprising to see this explosion in year four.
From Hamilton to Ottawa
The first two seasons of Acklin’s career came in Hamilton, and at times, Jeremiah Masoli was the quarterback throwing the passes. The Redblacks wanted to capitalize on this relationship and brought both to Ottawa for the 2022 season. Despite the early season injury to Jeremiah Masoli, the move to bring in Acklin has been unbelievably valuable.
In Hamilton Acklin was always the second or third target at wide receiver. In 2019 he wound up third on the team in receptions behind Brandon Banks (112), and Bralon Addison (95). Acklin would turn 58 catches into 708 yards and 3 touchdowns. Impressive numbers for a rookie, and certainly production Hamilton was happy to welcome them back for the 2021 season.
Following the cancellation of the 2020 season, there was turnover to many rosters, but the Tiger-Cats were able to bring back their top three receivers in 2021. Unfortunately for the team, the offense didn’t look nearly as impressive as they did on their 15-3 just over a year ago. Falling to an 8-6 record after the year away, the Tiger-Cats were hampered by injuries.
Addison would play in just three games, Banks missed four games, and Tim White missed one game. Jaelon Acklin was one of the few receivers to stay healthy. Playing in all 14 games, Acklin had 50 receptions for 678 yards and 4 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 1 yard more per reception in his second season, almost as if he was foreshadowing what was to come.
Ottawa Has Eyes for a New Number One Target
This past offseason the Redblacks knew they needed to address their passing attack. They did so early and often bringing in multiple players to compete for the starting role. Jaelon Acklin stood apart from everyone else on the roster throughout camp.
In doing so he earned the role as the top target in the offense for whoever was starting at quarterback. Despite a rotation of mediocre play at the quarterback position, Acklin has already set career highs in multiple categories. After totaling 1,386 yards in the first 31 games of his CFL career, his move to Ottawa has changed everything.
Through 12 games, he has been targeted 95 times, catching 61 passes for 1,025 yards and 2 touchdowns, 16.8 yards per reception. He still has six games to further entrench his name atop the leaderboard for reception yardage. If Acklin continues the pace he is on, he will finish the season with 142 targets, 91 receptions, 1,537 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Acklin has proven to be the total package for the Redblacks this season. When he entered the NFL Draft, Analyst Lance Zierlein described him as a better athlete than a football player. He displayed amazing short-area quickness and vertical speed. In the last 20 years of the draft, only two other players have posted better combinations of numbers in the 3 cone drill, short shuttle, and vertical leap. With unbelievable athleticism, and now the experience to go with it…Jaelon Acklin is poised to take over the CFL, and perhaps even catch some NFL attention.