2019 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class features Stamps’ Cornish, Riders’ Hopson

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame class for 2019 was announced Wednesday.

Former Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish, Saskatchewan Roughriders president and CEO Jim Hopson, receiver Swervin’ Mervyn Fernandez, receiver Terry Greer, receiver and defensive back Ernie Pitts, receiver David Williams and coach Frank Smith round out the group.

Cornish was recognized as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2013 and won three consecutive Most Outstanding Canadian Awards from 2012 to 2014 along with two Grey Cups (2008 and 2014). He was selected as a CFL all-star three straight years from 2012 to 2014 and led the CFL in rushing in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cornish received the Lou Marsh Award in 2013 as Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year.

The Canadian running back finished his career as the fourth-leading rusher in Stampeders history with 6,844 yards, on 1,026 carries, an average of 6.7 yards per carry, and 44 touchdowns along with 1,666 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and 8,510 total yards from scrimmage.

Hopson began his CFL career on the field, playing offensive line for the Riders and finished it building the foundation for the franchise to be a business success. Hopson served four years on the Roughriders’ Board of Directors as the team’s alumni representative. In 2004 he became the team’s first full-time President and Chief Executive Officer, and spent ten years in the position. During Hopson’s tenure, Saskatchewan appeared in four Grey Cups, winning in 2007 and 2013. When Hopson retired from the club in 2015, the Roughriders had entered into a partnership with the City of Regina and Province of Saskatchewan to build a new stadium, which opened in 2017.

Fernandez spent all six seasons of his CFL career with the B.C. Lions while becoming the first Lion to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 1985, when he had 95 catches and 1,727 yards for an 18.2 yards per reception average, along with 15 touchdowns. He was recognized as a CFL All-Star in 1984 and 1985 and won Grey Cups with the Lions in 1985 and 1994. He made the most of his six seasons in BC, recording regular season career totals of 399 receptions, 6,690 receiving yards, an average of 16.8 yards per catch and 58 touchdown catches.

Greer his whole Canadian career with the Argos and left his mark by becoming the first receiver in pro football to record 2,000 receiving yards in a season in 1983. Greer was recognized as a CFL All-Star in 1982 and 1983. He played on Toronto’s Grey Cup-winning team in 1983. He left the CFL with 404 receptions for 6,817 yards, an average of 16.8 yards per catch and 47 touchdown catches. Greer averaged 1,136 receiving yards per season in his six CFL seasons, which is sixth all-time.

Pitts won four Grey Cups with the Blue Bombers (1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962). He played a career total of 204 regular season games. Pitts played receiver for Winnipeg from 1957 to 1964 before becoming a full-time defensive back from 1965 to 1970. In 1959 Pitts led Canadian football with 68 receptions, 1,126 yards and 16 touchdowns. His final career numbers in 13 seasons with Winnipeg were 55 touchdowns (54 receiving), 331 points, and 5,525 receiving yards on 337 receptions, and an average of 16.4 yards per catch.

Williams won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 1988, when he led the league in receptions with 83 in addition to his 1,468 receiving yards  and 18 touchdowns. He became the first player to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in his initial season. His 18 receiving TDs in 1988 were still tied for the fourth best single-season total as of the end of 2018. Williams was a CFL All-Star in 1988 and 1993. He finished his career with 439 receptions for 7,197 yards, averaging 16.4 yards per reception and scoring 78 touchdowns. Williams averaged a TD every 5.6 receptions. He won a Grey Cup with Toronto in 1991.

Smith coached the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds to five Hardy Cup Canada West conference titles in 1976, 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1987. UBC won the Vanier Cup in 1982 and 1986, and were finalists in 1978 and 1987. Smith won the Frank Tindall Award as Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union Football Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1987. He holds several UBC football coaching records including Most Seasons Coached (21), Most Victories (126), Most Consecutive Victories (22), and Most Points in One Season (466). A total of 47 players from Smith’s time as coach of the Thunderbirds went on to play in the Canadian Football League. Smith closed out the 1990’s by serving six seasons as an assistant coach with Saskatchewan and B.C. in the CFL.

Formal induction ceremonies for this year’s CFHOF class will be held later this year at the Hall of Fame in Hamilton on Friday, August 9. The Hall of Fame game is scheduled for Tim Hortons Field on Saturday, August 10 when the Tiger-Cats host the B.C. Lions.

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