October 18, 2022

Halfway There: A look at All-Star fan voting

The Canadian Press

With voting closing at 12:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 31, we’re already past the midpoint of fan voting for this year’s CFL All-Star team.

Last week, we touched on the surprisingly close race that fans have created between Zach Collaros and the injured Nathan Rourke. This week we’ll take a look at the interesting developments across the All-Star selection process.

Remember that you can vote up to three times before that 12:59 p.m. ET Oct. 31 deadline and that one voting fan will be chosen to win $5,000.

Let’s take a look at the positional races this week, where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ season-long dominance is shining through at most positions.

» Vote Now for your CFL All-Star team and a chance to win $5,000
» Steinberg’s MMQB: Under the radar All-Stars
» Ferguson: Collaros-Rourke a revealing debate


Quarterback: Collaros makes a move

Perhaps the most attention-grabbing race in the vote, the fan’s pick for All-Star quarterback should be a battle right down to the Halloween finish wire. Since we first wrote about Collaros-Rourke, we’ve seen some movement toward Collaros, the league’s reigning Most Outstanding Player. He remains the leading vote-getter among quarterbacks and all players, for that matter, Rourke isn’t that far behind him. As fans pay close attention to the BC Lions’ injury reports this week, hopeful that Rourke can make a return to action this season, that race stands to get closer.

Receiver: Schoen leads, with a surprise in the top-three

As Dalton Schoen moved into the league-lead for receiving yards, it should be of little surprise that the Winnipeg receiver is wildly popular with fans across the league. With the season he’s had — 68 catches, 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns in 17 games — the rookie now also leads all receivers in All-Star voting.

It shouldn’t be surprising either that Montreal’s Eugene Lewis is second in voting, after putting together a spectacular season thus far, with 1,231 yards and nine touchdown receptions.

What may surprise some fans though, is that injured Edmonton receiver Kenny Lawler is still racking up votes, even though his most sensational work was done earlier in the season. Lawler is third in voting among receivers, ahead of the likes of Jaelon Acklin, Dominique Rhymes and Tim White, to name a few.

Running back: Carey comfortably at the front of the pack

Calgary’s Ka’Deem Carey is running away with the running back fan vote. In Week 19 the Stamps’ star became the first running back in the league this season to crack the 1,000-yard rushing mark and has been a key part of his team’s success in 2022. Carey’s fan vote lead over Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira is a comfortable one, but could be swayed by a burst of Blue and Gold support between now and the Halloween deadline.

Offensive line: A couple of pillars top the list

Often cited by media voters as the hardest position to pick for All-Star selection, CFL fans have had no problem eying up two very successful bookends on what’s regularly noted as the league’s top offensive line.

Blue Bombers tackles Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick are No. 1 and 2, respectively so far in the fan vote. With the top spot in the West locked up, both sat out their team’s Week 19 loss to the BC Lions, but their work throughout another dominant Bombers’ season says plenty about their contributions on the field.

Of course, just like The Highlander series, there can be only one chosen for the offensive line All-Star spot. Bryant, the league’s first-ever three-time winner of the offensive lineman of the year award, leads his teammate at the moment.

Stampeders’ d-lineman Shawn Lemon is putting together a career year and pushing Winnipeg’s Willie Jefferson in the fan vote (Stampeders.com)

Defensive line: What about some Lemon love?

As a four-time CFL All-Star, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time Grey Cup champion, Willie Jefferson is one of the league’s most popular players. The Blue Bombers’ defensive lineman is at the front of the d-line pack so far in the fans’ eyes.

Right behind him though, is a very deserving, high-performing d-lineman out of Calgary. At 34, Shawn Lemon is second in the league in sacks, with 13, just one off his career-best with two games left in the regular season. A disruptor on the field his entire 10-year CFL career, Lemon has five forced fumbles this year, tying him with Saskatchewan’s Pete Robertson for the league lead. Lemon has 29 career forced fumbles and is an anchor on the Stamps’ defence.

This is a race that will be very interesting over the Stamps’ next two games.

Linebacker: At the top of the heap…

Another Blue Bomber tops the list of fan votes for linebacker. Adam Bighill holds a lead at the top spot, with his Grey Cup opponent from a year ago, Hamilton’s Jovan Santos-Knox, behind him at second place.

Surprisingly, a pair of Saskatchewan Roughrider linebackers that have garnered All-Star talk through the season sit further back of them. Darnell Sankey, who leads the league with 104 tackles, is eighth in voting right now, while his teammate Larry Dean and his 92 tackles, is ninth in fan voting.

Defensive back: Peters’ pack of picks leads the charge

Toronto Argonauts’ defensive back Jamal Peters caught the attention of fans across the league when he pulled in five of his league-leading six interceptions in back-to-back meetings with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Weeks 12 and 13. That’s allowed the second-year player out of Mississippi State to sail to the top of the defensive backs’ fan vote.

Winnipeg’s Winston Rose, Calgary’s Jonathan Moxey and Hamilton’s Ciante Evans trail behind Peters in a tight voting race.

Kickers: Paredes rules the roost

Calgary’s Rene Paredes has been the fan’s go-to kicker on the All-Star ballot. The league’s leader in made field goals (47) and third-most accurate (88.7 per cent) kicker is holding down the No. 1 spot.

Toronto’s Boris Bede and BC’s Sean Whyte are behind him, in need of some Double Blue and Orange and Black support, respectively, to gain some ground on Paredes.

Punters: The Aussie factor

The top-two vote getting punters hail from Australia.

Toronto’s John Haggerty and Calgary’s Cody Grace sit at No. 1 and 2, respectively so far in fan voting. In his first CFL season, Haggerty leads the league in punting yards (4,814) and is third in average yards (48.6). A second-year punter, Grace was a West Division All-Star in 2021 for the Stamps. He’s seventh in punting yards (3,625) and fourth in average yards (48.3).

Special teams: Woods leads, Adeboboye has some fans

The top special teams vote-getters are mostly a celebration of returners. Hamilton’s Lawrence Woods leads the pack, but there’s an interesting name in second place that shows the power of the fan vote.

Toronto rookie Daniel Adeboboye has second place at the moment. His 15 special teams tackles (seventh in the league) and clearly some enthusiastic support around him has him right at Woods’ heels, much in the way he would be on the field. We’ll see if he can bring the speedy returner down and take over the No. 1 spot.

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