The acquisition of offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl took the Ticats offensive line to a new level.
Hamilton signed the veteran national immediately following his release from the Toronto Argos in May — the double blue didn’t want to pay a $40,000 report and pass bonus. It would have been worth the money.
The ratio breaking tackle kept defenders out of Jeremiah Masoli and rookie Dane Evans’ face on the right side. He was a key reason why the the Tabbies scored the most offensive points 508 – tops in the league by 50 – and threw for a CFL-best 5,639 yards.
Literally, Van Zeyl is a large reason why Brandon Banks paced the three-down circuit in receptions (112), receiving yards (1,550) and touchdown catches (13) and is the leading candidate for the Most Outstanding Player award.
Van Zeyl is a converted All-Canadian defensive lineman from McMaster University, which makes the high calibre 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 a couple off-seasons ago 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 at the time – and moved on. However, the 11-year CFL veteran has shown that age is no limiting factor playing at an elite level at 36.
Twice Van Zeyl has hoisted the Grey Cup, both with Toronto (2012 and 2017). He was selected in the third round, 18th overall by the Montreal Alouettes in the 2007 CFL draft. Since that time, Van Zeyl has played in 173 games, a model of consistency up front. He’s elevated the entire Ticats unit during a year when Hamilton set a franchise single-season record with 15 wins.
Van Zeyl has earned multiple all-star selections on his resume, CFL all-star (2013 and 2017), East all-star (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and still been criminally underrated throughout a workmanlike career. It’s time for Hamilton’s rugged Canuck to add Most Outstanding Lineman to his resume.