October 27, 2014

Most Outstanding Rookie candidates announced


CFL.ca Staff

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;

– and –

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:

BC Lions

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

Edmonton Eskimos

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

Calgary Stampeders

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.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

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

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

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

Toronto Argonauts

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.

Montreal Alouettes

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