Brandon Banks beats out Cody Fajardo for CFL Most Outstanding Player

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Brandon Banks was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player on Thursday night, beating out Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo.

The 31-year-old receiver led the CFL in a number of categories this season, including receptions, targets, receiving yardage, yards after the catch, and receiving touchdowns.

Banks appeared in only 16 of 18 regular season games and played extensively with two different quarterbacks this season. The six-time East Division all-star developed quick chemistry with Dane Evans after Jeremiah Masoli suffered a season-ending ACL tear, helping the Tiger-Cats post a franchise-best 15-3 record.

Photo by Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.ca

Willie Jefferson was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player after receiving 39 of 50 first-place votes. The six-foot-seven pass rusher recorded 24 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, and one interception in 18 games this season. He also knocked down 16 passes, a new record for among CFL defensive linemen.

It is the second consecutive year that a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers took home the award, following Adam Bighill’s victory last year.

See the full list of Thursday’s award winners below.

Most Outstanding Player — REC Brandon Banks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Banks played a large role in the Ticats establishing a new franchise-record with 15 victories. He led the league in receptions (112 – also setting a new team mark), receiving yards (1,550), receiving touchdowns (13) and touchdowns scored (16). The Kansas State alum showcased his versatility by scoring touchdowns in three different ways: receiving, rushing and via kick return.

Banks topped the league in games with 100-plus receiving yards (eight), yards after catch (657) and receptions of 20-plus yards (21). The Garner, N.C., native finished third with 2,029 combined yards and second in yards from scrimmage with 1,606.

Banks’s prolific season came despite the loss of Hamilton’s starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, in the sixth game of the season. Second-year pivot, Dane Evans, stepped into the role and Banks’s combination of skill and speed ensured the transition was seamless.

The 31-year-old becomes the fifth Tiger-Cat to win Most Outstanding Player, joining Danny McManus (1999), Jimmy Edwards (1977), Gerney Henley (1972) and Bernie Faloney (1961). He is the ninth receiver to win the award and the first since Chad Owens in 2012.

This is Banks’s second CFL award, having claimed Most Outstanding Special Teams player in 2015.

Banks received 41 first-place votes.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player — DL Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Jefferson collected a career-high 12 sacks, added 24 tackles and an interception, forced six fumbles and recovered two, registered five tackles for a loss and set a CFL record for a defensive lineman with 16 pass knockdowns.

The Beaumont, Texas, native led a defence that ranked first in opponent rushing yards and pass knockdowns. Winnipeg finished second in interceptions (24), fumble recoveries (13) and in forcing turnovers (45).

In his first season with the team, Jefferson has won Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the first time in his career. The Blue Bombers have claimed the award in back-to-back years, following Adam Bighill’s win in 2018. Other Winnipeg players to receive the honour include Jovon Johnson (2011), Greg Battle (1990-91) and Tyrone Jones (1985).

Jefferson received 39 first-place votes.

Most Outstanding Canadian — LB Henoc Muamba, Montreal Alouettes

Muamba finished second in the league in defensive tackles (93) and fourth in total defensive plays (104) as Montreal finished second in the East Division and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

The product of St. Francis Xavier also added three pass knockdowns, two forced fumbles, a sack and four tackles for a loss.

The Congo native, who grew up in Mississauga, has been named Most Outstanding Canadian for the first time in his career. This marks the fifth time that an Alouette has captured the award, following Ben Cahoon (2002-03), Nike Arakgi (1984) and Gerry Dattillio (1980). The last linebacker to take home the award was Mike O’Shea in 1999.

Muamba received 34 first-place votes.

Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman — OT Chris Van Zeyl, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

In his first season with Hamilton, Van Zeyl was a steadying force on an offensive line which enabled its quarterbacks to total league-highs in passing yards (5,639), touchdowns (57) and net offence (395.8 yards per game).

This was the Fonthill, Ont., native’s first time being named a finalist for the Nissan TITAN Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman over his 11-year career.

The former McMaster Marauder is the first Tiger-Cat to ever win the award, and the first Canadian to do so since Brett Jones in 2014.

Van Zeyl received 26 first-place votes.

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player — DB/KR Frankie Williams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Williams led the league in punt return yards (949) while tallying 10 returns of 30-plus yards and a touchdown. In handling kick-off return duties, the Tampa, Fla., native accumulated 1,071 return yards, two returns of 40-plus yards and a touchdown. His 2,020 total kick return yards topped the CFL.

The former Purdue Boilermaker is the third Tiger-Cat to be named Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, joining current teammate Brandon Banks (2015) and Chris Williams (2012).

Williams received 34 first-place votes.

Most Outstanding Rookie — LB Nate Holley, Calgary Stampeders

Holley recorded 100 total tackles, three pass knockdowns, a sack, an interception and a tackle for a loss. The Kent State alum’s first year also included time on special teams where he finished with 107 total defensive plays and 22 special teams tackles – good for second in the league.

The Ottawa Lake, Mich., native joins five Stampeders who have previously been named the Most Outstanding Rookie: DaVaris Daniels (2016), Brett Jones (2013), Nik Lewis (2004), Kelvin Anderson (1996) and Harold Hallman (1986).

The most recent linebacker to win the award was current teammate Dexter McCoil in 2014.

Holley received 41 first-place votes.

Coach of the year — Ordlono Steinauer, Hamiltin Tiger-Cats

In his first stint as a head coach in the CFL, Steinauer led Hamilton to a franchise-best 15 victories, easily surpassing the previous mark of 12 and tying the all-time record for wins by a first-year head coach. The team also finished with a flawless 9-0 mark at Tim Hortons Field.

The Tiger-Cats led the CFL in points scored (551), net offence (395.8 yards per game) and passing yards (313.3 yards per game) as the team captured the East Division crown for the first time since 2014.

Steinauer becomes the seventh Tiger-Cat to win the Annis Stukus Award following Greg Marshall (2004), Ron Lancaster (1998), Al Bruno (1989), Bob Shaw (1976), Ralph Sazio (1964) and Jim Trimble (1961).

Steinauer received 38 first-place votes.

Tom Pate Memorial Award — P Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders

Maver was named the 2019 recipient of the Tom Pate Memorial Award. Selected by the CFL Players’ Association, the award celebrates outstanding sportsmanship and is given to a player who has made significant contributions to his team and his community association.

Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Trophy — LS Martin Bédard, Montreal Alouettes

Bedard received the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award, which is given annually to a Canadian player who demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities.

Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award — GM John Hufnagel, Calgary Stampeders

As chosen by the commissioner, the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated great leadership and has made significant contributions to the league, was awarded to Hufnagel, the former player and head coach, as well as, current general manager and president of the Stamps.

Commissioner’s Award — Jim Lawson

The Commissioner’s Award, recognizing an individual or group for outstanding contributions to the league, was awarded by commish Randy Ambrosie to Lawson, Chairman of the CFL’s Board of Governors.