Awards season: analyzing Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman

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 Offensive Lineman.

Other awards:
Most Outstanding Canadian
Most Outstanding Defensive Player

(Photo: Johany Jutras)

When Chris Van Zeyl is on the field the entire Argos offence has more energy.

The ratio breaking tackle has kept defenders out of Ricky Ray’s face on the right side and been a key reason why the Argos quarterback has thrown for 5,000 yards for the first time since 2008. Van Zeyl was on Montreal’s practice roster that year. He’s a converted All-Canadian defensive lineman from McMaster University, which makes the elite level of play he’s achieved even more impressive.

Standing six-foot-six, 312 pounds, Van Zeyl has NFL size. In fact, an NFL scout saw the Fonthill, Ont. native in the off-season and just by seeing his sheer size and body build wondered if he could sign him, but then he found out how old he was – 34 – and moved on. However, the nine-year CFL veteran has shown that age is no limiting factor.

“Van Zeyl has been as good as ever this season,” a personnel man said.

Consider that assessment with the fact that Van Zeyl four all-star selections on his resume, CFL all-star (2013) and East all-star (2013, 2014 and 2016).

There are some other blockers that drew praise from CFL talent evaluators, Calgary’s Ucambre Williams, Winnipeg’s Travis Bond, Saskatchewan’s Brendon LaBatte, Bruce Campbell has been excellent for the Riders, although only 10 games played. Van Zeyl has played more and performed at a high level.

“Van Zeyl is a stud. Mean guy who sets the tone,” one scout said.

Toronto’s rugged Canuck should be adding Most Outstanding Lineman to his resume.


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