Award season: analyzing Most Outstanding Canadian candidates

With CFL awards voting set to begin shortly, 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk has talked with football people across the country to get their thoughts on the top candidates. Up first, Most Outstanding Canadian.

There are Canadians at every position – quarterback included – that are having stellar seasons.

Andrew Harris and Alex Singleton should dominate the decision as to who should take home the Most Outstanding Canadian trophy in 2017. There are other notable performances worth shining lights on. Selecting team, division and CFL Canadian award winners.

B.C. Lions

Front runners: receiver Shaquille Johnson, defensive back Anthony Thompson and linebacker Jordan Herdman

Johnson has put together a breakout season while filling a hole in the receiving corps left by Shawn Gore retiring last off-season. B.C.’s 2016 fourth-round selection has turned his raw athleticism into production on the field with over 500 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

On defence Thompson has been a mainstay Canuck in the secondary while Herdman has been a great special teams contributor.

Johnson has emerged and displayed his potential which gets him the trophy.

Calgary Stampeders

Front runners: offensive lineman Dan Federkeil, running back Jerome Messam, linebacker Alex Singleton, kicker Rene Paredes

At 33-years-old Federkeil has played well at right tackle for Calgary and kept himself rather healthy too. Messam, Singleton and Paredes are among the league leaders in rushing yards, tackles and field goals respectively, but only one can capture the Stampeders distinction.

It comes down to a really tough race between Messam and Singleton with the second-year tackler edging out the 2016 Most Outstanding Canadian.

Edmonton Eskimos

Front runners: offensive lineman Matt O’Donnell, receiver Cory Watson, defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng, linebacker Adam Konar, defensive back Arjen Colquhoun

The Esks offensive line has been steadied by the six-foot-11, 350-pound blocker’s consistent play all season long. Watson has made some big plays and been a reliable target. Boateng has provided great value for a fifth-round pick and rushed the passer well. When healthy, Konar makes an impact. Colquhoun – only six games – showed well. Even though Konar missed time he’s been one of the most productive players on ‘D’, so he’s the pick.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Front runners: quarterback Brandon Bridge, offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte, offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski, defensive lineman Eddie Steele, linebacker Henoc Muamba

Chris Jones reconstructed the offensive line from the porous unit that took the field in 2016, LaBatte and Dyakowski have been two key reasons why the Riders offence has improved. ‘Air Canada’ has had a hand in that offensive resurgence too. Steele is a heart-and-soul type of player who has anchored the interior of the defensive line. Saskatchewan’s top tackler, Muamba leads the defence and he’s been ultra-productive.

Bridge simply hasn’t been on the field enough to warrant the award, even though each time he’s played the offence has done well. Both offensive linemen are legitimate choices, but Muamba takes it because of his role in a resurgent Riders ‘D”.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Front runners: running back Andrew Harris, defensive back Taylor Loffler, Jamaal Westerman

Most seasons picking from the trio of players above would be difficult, Loffler paces the Bombers in tackles, Westerman in sacks and Harris total offence. Three worthy candidates, but the season Winnipeg’s All-Canadian back has had makes Harris the pick.

Toronto Argonauts

Front runners: offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl, running back/receiver Anthony Combs, fullback Declan Cross

Shoulder damage and surgery caused Coombs to miss lots of time which rules him out for these purposes. Cross has developed into a reliable fullback who can be a trusted receiver out of the backfield. When Van Zeyl, Toronto’s rugged, tough, physical leader, lines up on the offence the Argos are much improved in a variety of ways. He’s a ratio-breaking tackle that brings an edge to the field and competes hard every snap. Van Zeyl is full value.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Front runners: offensive lineman Brandon Revenberg, offensive lineman Ryan Bomben, defensive lineman Justin Capicciotti, defensive back Courtney Stephen

Hamilton went through a period of the season where tackle play was poor, but Revenberg and Bomben did not appear to suffer from the lack of support outside them – two young guards in their prime. Capicciotti has been persistent in getting after the passer, tied for the most sacks by a Canadian in 2017. Stephen reliable in a backend that underwent lots of changes early in the season. Bomben’s steady play gives him the nod.

Ottawa Redblacks

Front runners: offensive lineman Jason Lauzon-Seguin, receiver Brad Sinopoli, defensive lineman Zach Evans, defensive back Antoine Pruneau

In just his second season, Lauzon-Seguin has settled in as a Canadian tackle. Sinopoli once again – third straight season – reached the 1,000-yard plateau. Evans has been solid in the middle. Pruneau’s snagged a career-high four interceptions. However, the ultra-productive local receiver tops the list.

Montreal Alouettes

Front runners: offensive lineman Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, offensive lineman Kristian Matte, defensive back Dondre Wright

Brodeur-Jourdain and Matte have been a strong tandem inside for Montreal, playing in every game up front. Wright’s suited up in every game and took over the starting role at safety after Chris Ackie went down with a season-ending injury. Major impact rookie takes the prize.

East Division Most Outstanding Canadian

Team award winners:

Alouettes: Dondre Wright
Redblacks: Brad Sinopoli
Ticats: Ryan Bomben
Argos: Chris Van Zeyl

Wright was pretty good for a first-year player. Bomben helped keep the interior solidified while there were problems at tackle. Van Zeyl gives Toronto an attitude change on offence. All that said, Sinopoli is the preeminent Canadian target in the league and was one of the main weapons in Ottawa’s aerial attack. The Redblacks receiver comes out of the East.

West Division Most Outstanding Canadian

Team award winners:

Bombers: Andrew Harris
Riders: Henoc Muamba
Eskimos: Adam Konar
Stampeders: Alex Singleton
Lions: Anthony Thompson

Konar missed too much action to be strongly considered at the division level. Johnson has broken out. But the West choice comes down to three star Canadians. Muamba’s stat line won’t be on the level of Singleton or Harris, but he’s played at a high level after sitting out one game with a knee injury early in the season.

Singleton has set a record for tackles by a Canadian in a single-season, passing Kevin Eiben’s mark of 113 in 2005. Harris leads the league in yards from scrimmage and is on track to make CFL history and become the first player to rush and receive for 900 yards. Yes, 1,000 and 1,000 is much sexier, but based on season averages double 900 should happen.

Both Singleton and Harris have been outstanding, honestly, co-award winners in the Canadian category should be strongly considered, especially because the league award winner comes down to whoever comes out of the West.

“I love what Andrew Harris has done. Historical numbers and key in the Bombers success,” a CFL general manager said.

“That’s a tough one, it should be a co-award. Harris might be more valuable to his team,” a player personnel mad said.

“Singleton has just been a force. If Harris goes 1,000, 1,000 you have to give it to him,” a talent evaluator said.

“Andrew Harris, no question,” one scout said.


CFL Most Outstanding Canadian

Division finalists:

East: Brad Sinopoli
West: Andrew Harris

Harris should claim the first major CFL award of his career.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.