TORONTO — The Canadian Football League announced its list of players eligible for the 2014 Most Outstanding Rookie Award on Monday, a month before the league’s top first-year player will be selected in Vancouver on Nov. 27, 2014.
This season has witnessed a number of breakout seasons for players just entering the league, epsecially in a year highlighted by the addition of the expansion REDBLACKS as well as injuries to star players at key positions.
Rookies have stepped in and made a major impact in BC, where the team has been forced to continue without its starting quarterback, top two running backs, and top receiver this season leading to the recent emergence of Keola Antolin. The more popular choice in BC, though, may be Alex Bazzie, whose 10 sacks are second on the team and have played an integral role in the Lions leading the league defensively.
Bazzie is one of 10 defensive linemen to reach double-digit sacks this season, and he’s joined in that elusive club by another rookie up for the prestigious rookie honour in Tristan Okpalauogo, whose 11 sacks have powered an Argo defence that specializes in pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Montreal’s Gabriel Knapton is another possibility for the award, as his nine sacks kick-started a Montreal defence that’s now won seven of its last eight games, and has the Als on the brink of a division title.
Rookie linebackers have also made an enormous impact in what’s been a season dominated by strong defensive play, as Hamilton’s Taylor Reed and Edmonton’s Dexter McCoil are likely to garner plenty of consideration. McCoil leads a standout Eskimo defence with 61 tackles, six interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns this season. Reed, meanwhile, is third on the Ticats with 56 tackles and second in sacks with seven.
First-year players have played a pivotal role in the REDBLACKS’ inaugural CFL season, as rookie stars like Jerrell Gavins, Antoine Pruneau, and Travis Brown have helped bolster a stingy defence that’s kept the team in most of its games this season.
Rookie kicker Lirim Hajrullahu is an option as well, as he eyes a Blue Bombers club record with an 87.7 per cent success rate on 36-of-41 field goal attempts this season, providing a legitimate special teams candidate.
That’s not to leave out some of the league’s top offensive rookies, such as Nic Grigsby, who should earn plenty of consideration despite recently switching teams from Winnipeg to Hamilton. Grigsby remains the league’s fourth-leading rusher with 750 yards on the ground, while also leading the league in receptions among running backs.
Below is a list of players who are eligible for the 2014 Most Outstanding Rookie award.
In order to be eligible as a candidate for the League award for the “Most Outstanding First Year Player” (Rookie Award), a player must meet the following criteria:
1. He had, in the current season, been named to the active roster of a member Club of the Canadian Football League at the time it played in a regular season game; and
2. He had not:
a) In any prior season dressed for a member Club of the Canadian Football League at the time it played in a regular season or playoff or championship game;
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b) In the current season or in any prior season, dressed for a member Club in the National Football League, at the time it played in a regular season or post-season or championship game.
The Rookie of the Year is selected by voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and CFL head coaches. The winner will be announced at the CFL Player Awards on Thursday, November 27 in Vancouver, B.C.
The following players meet the above requirements this for this year’s voting:
Stephen Adekolu | WR | Bishop’s Keola Antolin | RB | Arizona Alex Bazzie | DL | Marshall Bryan Burnham | WR | Tulsa Casey Chin | LB | Simon Fraser Jermarcus Hardrick | DL | Nebraska Alex Hoffman-Ellis | LB | Washington St. Josh Johnson | DB | Purdue TJ Lee | DB | Eastern Washington Pascal Lochard | FB | Laval Rob Lohr | DL | Vanderbilt Boseko Lokombo | LB | Oregon David Menard | DL | Montreal Travis Partridge | QB | Missouri Western St. T’Dre Player | OL | Northwestern St. Hunter Steward | OL | Liberty Cameron Thorn | OL | Guelph
Gregory Alexandre | DL | Montreal Devon Bailey | WR | St. FX Anthony Barrett | WR | Edmonton Huskies JR. Mike Dubuisson | DB | Windsor Otha Foster | DB | West Alabama AJ Guyton | WR | Central Florida Deon Lacey | LB | West Alabama Dexter McCoil | LB | Tulsa Cedric McKinley | DL | Minnesota Aaron Milton | RB | Toronto Tyler Thomas | RB | Bacone College
Frank Beltre | DL | Towson University Maalik Bomar | LB | Cincinnati Brander Craighead | OL | UTEP Sederrik Cunningham | WR | Furman Bradley Erdos | OL | Simon Fraser DeQuin Evans | DL | Kentucky Buddy Jackson | DB | Pittsburgh Pierre Lavertu | OL | Laval Bryant Moniz | QB | Hawaii Charlie Power | FB | Saskatchewan Quinn Smith | DL | Concordia Adam Thibault | DB | Laval Jeremy Williams | DB | Henderson St.
Levy Adcock | OL | Oklahoma St. Chancey Aghayere | DL | Louisiana St. Dylan Ainsworth | DL | Western University Marvin Burdette | LB | Alabama Birmingham Seth Doege | QB | Texas Tech Trevor Guyton | DL | California Chad Kilgore | LB | Northwest Missouri St. Mark LeGree | DB | Appalachian St. Alex Pierzchalski | WR | Toronto Keith Price | QB | Washington Ryan Smith | WR | North Dakota St. Derek Walker | DL | Illinois Matt Webster | DB | Queen’s Ryan Wellman | DL | Regina
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Marvin Booker | DL | Rutgers Jesse Briggs LB McGill Paris Cotton RB Central Michigan Jace Daniels OL Northern Michigan Kashawn Fraser DL Central Michigan Matthias Goossen OL Simon Fraser Lirim Hajrullahu K Western University Deantre Harlan DL Bacone College Greg Hickman DL Florida International Derek Jones DB Simon Fraser Cameron Marshall RB Arizona State Robert Marve QB Purdue Sam McGuffie WR Rice Willie Moseley DL Buffalo Will Smith LB Texas Tech Troy Stoudermire DB Minnesota Don Unamba DB Southern Arkansas Justin Wilson WR Delaware State
Michael Atkinson DL Boise St. Mike Daly DB McMaster Isaac Dell FB Wilfrid Laurier Linden Gaydosh DL Calgary Nicolas Grigsby RB Arizona Chris Johnson LB Toronto Pawel Kruba LB Western Beau Landry LB Western Jeremy Lewis OL Miami Quincy McDuffie WR Central Florida Jake Olson OL Central Michigan Bo Palmer RB Simon Fraser Taylor Reed LB SMU Landon Rice OL Manitoba Terrell Sinkfield WR Northern Iowa
Natey Adjei WR Buffalo Eric Black DB Saint Mary’s Anthony Coombs RB Manitoba Alex Dupuis RB Montreal Jarred Fayson WR Illinois Robert Gill WR Texas St. Brendan Gillanders RB Ottawa Logan Harrell DL Fresno St. Delano Johnson DL Bowie St. Thomas Miles LB Manitoba Tristan Okpalaugo DL Fresno St. Jake Reinhart DL Guelph Matt Sewell OL McMaster Aston Whiteside DL Abilene Christian Nicholas Williams LB North Alabama
Travis Brown | LB | Fresno St. Eddie Elder | DB | Arizona St. Roy Finch | RB | Oklahoma Jerrell Gavins | DB | Boise St. DJ Harper | RB | Boise St. Abdul Kanneh | DB | New Mexico Highlands Kalonji Kashama | DL | Eastern Michigan Colin Kelly | OL | Oregon St. Scott Macdonnell | WR | Queen’s Nolan MacMillan | OL | Iowa Brett Maher | K | Nebraska Robin Medeiros | WR | Bishop’s Danny O’Brien | QB | Catawba Khalil Paden | WR | Northern Arizona Antoine Pruneau | LB | Montreal Jermaine Robinson | DB | Toledo Nigel Romick | DL | Saint Mary’s Jamill Smith | WR | Ball St. Marlon Smith | DL | Texas at San Antonio Connor Williams | DL | Utah St. DJ Young | OL | Michigan St.
Jean-Christophe Beaulieu | RB | Sherbrooke Brian Brikowski | DL | Monmouth Dominique Ellis | DB | South Carolina St. Jeffrey Finley | DL | Guelph Gabriel Knapton | DL | Wyoming Andrew Lue | DB | Queen’s Jake Piotrowski | OL | Guelph James Rodgers | WR | Oregon St. James Tuck | LB | York Jamaan Webb | DB | Bethany Mitchell White | DB | Michigan St. Ryan White | OL | Bishop’s