Even the casual football fan has to notice Alex Singleton these days.
Not only does the Calgary Stampeders middle linebacker have that curly flow of black hair out the back of his helmet, he just always seems to be where the ball is headed.
And in a year when the Stamps are once again the best team, their sophomore ‘Canadian’ is leading the way on the defensive side of the ball.
The 23-year-old set a CFL record with a third straight game of double digit tackles when he recorded 11 against the B.C. Lions on Saturday night.
That follows games where he had 13 and 11 tackles in the sweep over the Edmonton Eskimos. If you are watching the Stamps on defence, No. 49 is always in on the plays.
The 35 tackles in three games — plus two sacks over that period — has vaulted the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native into the league lead with 91 tackles on the season. He’s on pace for 136 this season, which would shatter the Stampeders record held by Doug Landry (122 in 1989). He’s already at the best season of any Stampeders defensive player since George White recorded 116 tackles in 2005.
The pace he’s at now would put him in striking distance of the 143 that Solomon Elimimian had in 2014 when he was named league MOP.
So here’s the question? On a team that’s great overall, does Singleton’s numbers warrant a sweep of award nominations at the end of the season?
It’s strange when looking at the league stats and seeing nothing much eye-popping when from this team.
Sure, running back Jerome Messam is leading the league in rushing, but his 5.0-yard average isn’t that impressive. He’s getting plenty of opportunities to run the ball. Messam could miss some time after taking a nasty hit to the head against the Lions, so that could affect how his season finishes up. He’s on pace for another 1,000-yard season, which would be a solid year.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell would even admit he and the offence aren’t having a great year, which is funny to say when you consider this team has lost once and tied once in 12 outings. Mitchell’s QB rating of 98.3 is good but he’s ranked sixth in that category among starters. He does win games and comes up big at key moments, so it’s hard to argue he isn’t the most valuable player on this team, but most outstanding this year is debatable.
There are no standouts in the receiving corps either, as Marquay McDaniel leads in yardage but is 12th overall in the league.
So how are the Stamps doing this? A balanced game with all three phases contributing, but the defence is leading the way.
Their 18.5 points allowed per game is way better than every other team in the league.
Singleton is a key cog this year, and the fact that he has Canadian status because his mother was born in our country is a great bonus to the Stamps.
There’s a chance he could end up as the nominee from the Stamps as top Canadian, top defensive player, and the most outstanding player.
He picked up his second player of the week recognition for his outing against the Lions. What he’s doing is gaining elite status among defenders, as his nose for the ball is giving the Stamps a valuable playmaker in the middle.