CALGARY — Brandon Banks has been named the Canadian Football League’s Most Outstanding Player for 2019.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver was presented the honour at the 2019 Shaw CFL Awards on Thursday night, as the league’s biggest stars gathered at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Banks earned the nod over Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo, who was the West Division nominee after throwing for 4,302 yards and combining for 28 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
“I’ve matured and grown as a man. I’ve been here for seven years and the organization has had my back since day one and that obviously made me very comfortable and allowed me to be who I am,” Banks said. “I’ve grown, I’m thankful for them and I’m happy to be a part of that kind of an organization.”
The MOP nod is Banks’s second CFL award in his seven-year career, after first capturing the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player award in 2015. Since then, however, Banks has become much more than just a returner, blossoming into the league’s most explosive and productive pass-catcher.
Banks will suit up on Sunday in the 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw in Calgary, where his Ticats will meet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in search of the team’s first Grey Cup since 1999.
This season, Banks guided Hamilton to a new franchise record with 15 victories on the way to their first Grey Cup berth since 2014. He led the league in receptions (112 – also setting a new team mark), receiving yards (1,550), receiving touchdowns (13) and touchdowns scored (16).
“It just goes to show you what type of an organization this is,” Banks said of the support from everyone on the team. “We have a tight organization; we’re a family-first organization and we treat everybody like brothers. We’ll be here for each other no matter what the situation is and I’m just happy that my teammates came out to support me.”
Widely nicknamed ‘Speedy B’, the Kansas State alum can do it all, showcasing his versatility by scoring touchdowns in three different ways this season: receiving, rushing and via kick return.
LONG READ: BANKS CLEARS ALL HURDLES EN ROUTE TO MOP
Counted out by some, embraced by many more, Brandon Banks talks through a career year that earned him Most Outstanding Player honours with senior writer Chris O’Leary … READ MORE.
Still, the 31-year-old made his biggest contributions offensively, topping the league in games with 100-plus receiving yards (eight), yards after catch (657) and receptions of 20-plus yards (21). The Garner, N.C., native finished third with 2,029 combined yards and second in yards from scrimmage with 1,606.
Banks’ prolific season came despite the loss of Hamilton’s starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, to injury in the sixth game of the year. Second-year pivot Dane Evans stepped into the role and Banks’s combination of skill and speed ensured a seamless transition for the league’s highest-scoring offence.
The five-foot-seven, 150-pound receiver becomes the fifth Tiger-Cat to win Most Outstanding Player, joining Danny McManus (1999), Jimmy Edwards (1977), Garney Henley (1972) and Bernie Faloney (1961). He is the ninth receiver to win the award and the first since Chad Owens in 2012.