Hec Crighton winner Chris Merchant signs with Stockholm Mean Machines

Photo courtesy: Mustangs Athletics

It appears Chris Merchant’s European adventure will not be ending any time soon.

The star Canadian quarterback and reigning Hec Crighton winner is currently suiting up for the Las Rozas Black Demons of Spain, but has announced his commitment to play for the Stockholm Mean Machines of the Swedish Superserien as soon as the Spanish season ends.

“I know the program has a long history of success and has high expectations to win every year as shown by their 11 national championships. That is exactly the type of program I want to be a part of because I believe I can help make this years’ expectations a reality,” Merchant said of his decision.

“I also know the program has been built with a great group of players and when they bring in import players, they hope that we can help develop their youth for the future success of the program as well. As someone who loves to coach and share my knowledge of the game, the Mean Machines give me the perfect balance of everything I am looking for.”

Merchant currently has another championship on his mind. After snapping the four-time reigning Spanish champion Badalona Dracs 47-game winning streak in his European debut, the Canadian has the Black Demons sitting 7-0 with one week remaining in the Spanish season.

As the country’s only undefeated team, they are heavily favoured to bring home the national championship, something Merchant is no stranger to.

The quarterback originally committed to the University of Buffalo before transferring to Western in 2016. He quickly became the club’s starter, leading the team to an 8-2 record and a berth in the Yates Cup.

Merchant helped the Mustangs capture the Vanier Cup the following season, ending Western’s 23-year championship drought. The Calgary native was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after recording 276 passing yards, 89 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Laval.

Western returned to the Vanier Cup under Merchant’s leadership in 2018, but lost to the Rouge et Or by a score of 34-20. The quarterback set new career-highs in passing yardage (3,279) and touchdowns (23) that season.

Merchant capped his career at Western in 2019 by winning the Hec Crighton Trophy, given annually to the top player in U Sports football. It marked the first time a member of the Mustangs earned the award since Andy Fantuz in 2005.

That success wasn’t enough to get him out of training camp with the Montreal Alouettes, but Merchant is now climbing the European ladder to make his way home.

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.