Intro to Canadian Studies: Stars come out in Week 5 NCAA action

Photo courtesy: Alabama Athletics

When it comes to Canadian performances, you won’t find a better slate than Week 5 in the NCAA. It seemed to go from good to better as Saturday went on, producing highlight after highlight.

That’s good news for regular attendees of my weekly lecture on the top college Canucks. This is set to be the most entertaining class of the semester, so sharpen your pencils and settle in for the best homegrown stars of Week 5.

Top of the Class

1. REC John Metchie III, SO, Alabama Crimson Tide (Brampton, Ont.)

Considered an underrated third receiver just a week ago, everyone in the world of college football now knows the name John Metchie III.

In a highly-touted matchup against No. 13 Texas A&M, the native of Brampton had a coming out party for the ages. Targeted six times, he hauled in five passes for an incredible 181 yards and two touchdowns as Alabama’s top receiver in a 52-24 route of the Aggies. He was the star of the week in college football, earning some high praise from his head coach Nick Saban in the process.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban: Canadian receiver John Metchie III ‘is a real threat’

Prior to Saturday, the brother of Calgary Stampeders safety Royce Metchie had only 72 career receiving yards. He exceeded that total on his very first career touchdown catch, a 78-yard bomb from quarterback Mac Jones. His second touchdown was a measly 63 yards in comparison.

Consistently open and making eye-popping plays, Metchie recorded a Pro Football Focus grade of 84.3 and proved it wasn’t all scheme or quarterbacking by running for 70 yards after the catch. The kid has arrived and you should expect him to get plenty of looks week after week.

2. RB Chuba Hubbard, JR, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Sherwood Park, Alb.)

Chuba Hubbard is finally back.

After struggling through each of his first two games despite posting decent numbers, Hubbard looked like a different back against Kansas. The 2019 Cornish Trophy winner took its namesake’s alma mater to the woodshed with 145 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns for good measure.

Chuba Hubbard has breakout performance in dominant Oklahoma State win over Kansas

Hubbard found himself stapled to the bench for his own preservation after halftime, with the Cowboys going on to win 47-7. The Heisman hopeful had a strong PFF grade of 76.1 and showed flashes of his big play potential with seven runs over 10 yards, an average of 7.3 yards per carry. All of it seems to indicate the Canadian Cowboy is back.

T-3. REC Josh Palmer, SR, Tennessee Volunteers (Brampton, Ont.)

It wasn’t as headline-grabbing as his performance last week, but Palmer continued to be exceptional with a couple of nice catches in a win over Missouri. When it was all said and done, Palmer was his team’s top graded player on either side of the ball with an impressive 81.6 mark from PFF.

With four receptions and 71 yards in the SEC, Palmer was the second-best player from Brampton this week. He and Metchie led some to speculate Saturday that the Flower City is the best athlete producer in Canada. I won’t go that far yet, but you may have to ask again when the 2020 NCAA season is over.

T-3. MLB Amen Ogbongbemiga, SR, Oklahoma State Cowboys (Calgary, Alb.)

Canadian content was so good in Week 5, I had to leave it a tie for the final spot on the podium.

Amen Ogbongbemiga was just as good as Hubbard, integral to a complete smothering of the Kansas offence. The hard-nosed Calgarian had fives tackles and remained effective as a blitzer with 0.5 sacks and three quarterback pressures. It all resulted in a stellar PFF grade of 81.6 that couldn’t be left out of out the top of the class.

Unfortunately, Ogbongbemiga was knocked out of the game by friendly fire in the fourth quarter and looked to be dealing with a possible concussion. Those are fickle injuries, but head coach Mike Gundy seemed to indicate that it wouldn’t be a long-term problem and we hope to see the Canadian back at the top of the class as soon as he’s healthy.

Canadian linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga knocked out of game against Kansas

Notes on the Margins

TE Bruno Labelle, SR, Cincinnati Bearcats (Montreal, Que.)

When a receiver on the second-ranked team in the nation goes off for almost 200 yards, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was the best Canadian playing that week. According to PFF, you’d be wrong.

That honour goes to Cincinnati blocking tight end Bruno Labelle, who recorded one of the best grades of the week with an 89.3 against the University of South Florida. Labelle caught three pass for nine yards and a score, but as always did his best work in the run game with a blocking grade of 81.8. So far this season, the bruising Montrealer has the fourth-best run blocking grade and tenth-best overall grade of any tight end in college football.

While star players who put up eye-popping numbers get most of the attention, Labelle has a case to be called the best Canadian player in the NCAA. If he continues his stellar down-in, down-out play, I just might jump on board a dark horse #LabelleForTheCornish campaign.

DT Akheem Mesidor, FR, West Virginia Moutaineers (Ottawa, Ont.)

He might still be a rotational back-up, but Akheem Mesidor is having a tremendous true freshman season along a star-studded West Virginia defensive line.

In 22 reps of action against Baylor, Mesidor was in on four tackles and got into the backfield for a hurry, a quarterback hit and his second career sack. With legit NFL prospects taking up the spots in front of him, the young Ottawa product continues to get a lot of production out of a little playing time. With a bunch of the NCAA’s top Canadians set to turn pro next year, the Cornish Award could be a two horse race between Metchie and Mesidor in 2021.

Re-Submit Assignment

REC Jared Wayne, SO, Pittsburgh Panthers (Peterborough, Ont.)

Consider this more a concerned check in from the professor, rather than a criticism.

Wayne was a last minute pre-game scratch against North Carolina State for reasons undisclosed, continuing a confusing 2020 campaign for the sophomore. This was the second time this season Wayne hasn’t dressed, after he missed the season opener for similar undisclosed reasons. He was a Top of the Class selection two weeks ago but was held without a catch in Week 4 and is now back where he started.

I have no idea why Wayne wasn’t dressed against the Wolfpack. He wasn’t on the listed injury report and there have been no indications of disciplinary action. All I know is Canadian content in the NCAA is better when he’s performing and I hope he’s back in the lineup, and catching passes, soon.

Class Attendance

PK Gabe Semieniec, SR, Louisiana Tech: Three kickoffs, 195 yards, 65 yard average, three touchbacks

DE Daniel Joseph, SR, NC State: 39 defensive snaps, three tackles, three pressures, one quarterback hit

WLB Enock Makonzo, JR, Coastal Carolina: 48 defensive snaps, seven tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss

FS Alonzo Addae, SR, West Virginia: 78 defensive snaps, nine tackles, one pass break-up

RG John Kourtis, SO, Liberty: 18 offensive snaps, one pressure allowed

OLB Tavius Robinson, JR, Ole Miss: 35 defensive snaps, two tackles

CB Deane Leonard, SR, Ole Miss: 19 defensive snaps, one tackle

REC Terrell Jana, SR, Virginia: 72 offensive snaps, five receptions, 55 yards, one touchdown

REC Ajou Ajou, FR, Clemson: 3 offensive snaps

Rostered but not dressed: OL Liam Dick, FR, Pittsburgh / REC Ezechiel Tieide, SO, Boston College / DT Lamar Goods, FR, Florida / DE Wilt Gabe II, SO, Coastal Carolina / CB Patrice Rene, SR, North Carolina

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.