TORONTO — Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and Ottawa REDBLACKS receiver Ernest Jackson will both vie for the league’s top individual honour, the Most Outstanding Player award.
The Canadian Football League announced Thursday that the two players have been voted Most Outstanding Player in their respective divisions. The winner will be announced at the Shaw CFL Awards show on Thursday, November 24 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto as part of the festivities for the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.
The Most Outstanding Player awards, which include six categories, are decided by 88 votes from the Football Reporters of Canada and head coaches from across the league.
Here are all of this year’s Most Outstanding Player nominees:
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER
Bo Levi Mitchell (CGY)
Ernest Jackson (OTT)
Jackson led the East Division regular season champions with 88 receptions this season, a career-high for the fifth-year player from University of Buffalo. Jackson also set new personal benchmarks with 1,225 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions this season for the REDBLACKS. Earlier this week, Jackson was also named a Divisional All-Star.
Mitchell’s nomination makes it two consecutive years that he has been named a finalist for the Most Outstanding Player award. Mitchell helped guide the Stampeders to another West Division title as well as a 16-game unbeaten streak during the 2016 season. Mitchell increased his passing yardage and touchdown pass total in each season of his five-year career .In 51 starts, Mitchell owns a record of 43-7-1 (.853) which is the highest winning percentage of all-time for a CFL quarterback in regular season play. He currently holds an active 14-game win streak as a starter heading into the playoffs.
MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Solomon Elimimian (BC)
Bear Woods (MTL)
BC Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian takes on Montreal Alouettes linebacker Bear Woods for the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. This marks the second time the two defensive players have been nominated together in the same year (2014). Woods led the East Division with the most tackles with 126 for second overall in the league, behind only Elimimian’s 129 tackles. Elimimian won the honour in 2014.
MOST OUTSTANDING CANADIAN
Jerome Messam (CGY)
Andy Fantuz (HAM)
The nominees for Most Outstanding Canadian are receiver Andy Fantuz from Chatham, Ontario and running back Jerome Messam from Toronto, Ontario. Fantuz finished his season with 101 receptions for 1,059 and five touchdowns for the Tiger-Cats; he is the first Canadian receiver to reach 100 receptions since Kamau Peterson and Ben Cahoon did so in 2008. Messam led the league in rushing with 1,198 yards, was one of only two players to rush for over 1,000 yards and scored the second-most touchdowns in the league this season with 12. The last time a receiver and running back were nominated in the same year was in 2003 when Ben Cahoon and Chris Szarka were finalists.
MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
Derek Dennis (CGY)
Jon Gott (OTT)
Messam’s teammate Derek Dennis is a nominee for Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. Dennis led the Calgary offensive line that featured the league’s leading rusher, tied for first with most offensive touchdowns scored and allowed the fewest sacks in the CFL. The East Division nominee comes from the Ottawa REDBLACKS, Jon Gott. The Edmonton, Alberta native is the second consecutive REDBLACK to be the finalist for the award. Gott anchored a line that led all East Division teams in net offence, rushing yards and passing yards, and started all 18 games for the REDBLACKS in 2016.
MOST OUTSTANDING SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER
Justin Medlock (WPG)
Brandon Banks (HAM)
Winnipeg’s Justin Medlock will go up against Hamilton’s Brandon Banks for the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award. This season, Medlock broke David Ridgway’s record by kicking 60 field goals in a single season (one better than Rideway’s mark in 1990). Medlock is the CFL’s all-time field goal percentage leader (87.7%). Banks, who won the award last year, recorded 2,082 total kick return yards this season and had three return touchdowns.
MOST OUTSTANDING ROOKIE
DaVaris Daniels (CGY)
Jason Lauzon-Séguin (OTT)
Calgary’s receiver DaVaris Daniels and Ottawa’s offensive lineman Jason Lauzon-Séguin each have been nominated for the Most Outstanding Rookie. In eleven games Daniels amassed 885 receiving yards on 51 receptions including nine touchdowns. Jason Lauzon-Séguin becomes only the second offensive lineman to be a named an East Division Most Outstanding Rookie nominee since 1985 (Nick Benjamin) when the current format was established.
AGF COACH OF THE YEAR
Dave Dickenson (CGY)
Rick Campbell (OTT)
First-year head coach Dave Dickenson has been nominated as AGF Coach of the Year finalist for the West Division while Rick Campbell represents the East Division for the second consecutive season. Dickenson recorded 15 wins for the Stampeders in his first season as a head coach – a new CFL record. Campbell has led the REDBLACKS to two East Division titles in his three seasons as head coach.
Note: Voters were asked to select players from their local CFL division who, through their on-field performance excellence, best represent the awards’ titles: Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Voters were also asked to select the AGF Coach of the Year candidates.