The race for the top Canadian player in the NCAA is down to the final vote.
Six Canadian athletes are on the final ballot for the fourth Jon Cornish Trophy as selected by a panel of voters comprised of professional scouts and media across Canada. The patrons have awarded previous Cornish Trophy presentations before the CFL and NFL Drafts.
Due to FCS spring football extending into May, the decision was made to extend the process. Athletes are required 66 percent or more on the first ballot to advance to the final vote.
Four of the finalists list their home as the province of Ontario, while two – including 2019-20 winner Chuba Hubbard – hail from Alberta. The trophy will be presented on May 24.
Here are the finalists.
Senior RS/Safety – Pickering, ON/West Virginia
The transfer from New Hampshire immediately asserted himself as a leader on a
dynamic West Virginia defensive unit. In 10 games, he was second in tackles for the
Mountaineers and tops in solo tackles with 38. He was led WVU in pass defence with
two interceptions and seven pass breakups. A graduate of St. Mary’s (ON), he
reclassified for a year at the Peddie School in New Jersey.
Junior RS/Running Back – Sherwood Park, AB/Oklahoma State
The leading rusher in the NCAA in 2019, the All-American and defending Cornish
Trophy winner played through an injury-riddled 2020 year. Earned a spot on the AFCA
Allstate Good Works Team for his work in the community, most notably for creating the
non-profit organization Your Life, Your Choice, which exists to provide opportunities
for underprivileged youths.
A first-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree was also a second-team All-Big 12 selection
despite missing four games and being slowed by injury in two others. He played in only
seven games but still finished with 625 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Averaged 89.3 rushing yards per game playing behind an offensive line was ravaged by
injuries. He had six rushes of 20 yards or longer, highlighted by a spectacular 32-yard
touchdown run against Iowa State. The Carolina Panthers drafted him in the fourth
round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Senior/Offensive Tackle – Windsor, ON (Detroit, MI)/Iowa
Jackson started all 42 games he dressed for Iowa. In 2020, he was selected second-team
All-America by AFCA, third-team All-America by Phil Steele, first-team All-Big Ten by
league coaches and media, first-team All-Big Ten by Associated Press and Phil Steele
and named to Outland Trophy preseason watch list.
John Metchie III
Sophomore/Receiver – Brampton, ON/Alabama
Metchie began the year as the Tide’s No. 3 wideout and expanded his role following the
injury to Jaylen Waddle. He averaged 16.7 yards per catch to rank seventh in the SEC,
totalling 916 yards and six touchdowns on 55 catches.
He converted a first down or scored a touchdown on 35 of his receptions as a
sophomore. He was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List after the Tennessee
matchup. He was selected as one of the offensive players of the week by the Alabama
coaches for his play against Texas A&M. He was named a special teams player of the
week by the UA coaches following Ole Miss.
Senior/Linebacker – Calgary, AB/Oklahoma State
The Nigerian-born Notre Dame Pride (Calgary) graduate was the leader of the Oklahoma
State defence in 2020 at middle linebacker. A semi-finalist for the 2020 Lott IMPACT
Trophy who was OSU’s leading tackler in six of its 11 games, Ogbongbemiga was named
second-team All-Big 12 by the coaches and the AP. The coaches also picked him as an
honourable mention for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
First-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree. He was voted as a team captain by his teammates for the second consecutive season. Selected in the preseason for the Butkus Award watch list and started every game for the Cowboys and served as a game captain vs. Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Miami. Finished the season as OSU’s second-leading tackler with 81, just one short of Malcolm Rodriguez’s 82. His 51 solo tackles also tied for the second-most on the team.
Senior/Receiver – Brampton, ON/Tennessee
Palmer proved to be the top receiver on the Volunteers and one of the best in the SEC.
Led the Vols in receiving yards (475), catches (33) and receiving touchdowns (4).
Twenty-three of his 33 catches went for first downs, while 62 yards came after the
catch. Ranked 13th in the SEC in 20+ yard catches (9). Was drafted by the Los Angeles
Chargers in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
He was UT’s leading receiver in the season-opening win at South Carolina (9/26), tying
a career-high with six catches for 85 yards and scoring the game-winning touchdown
with a 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
The Jon Cornish Trophy is awarded annually to the Canadian student-athlete who has been the most outstanding player in NCAA Football. It is awarded by voters consisting of Canadian journalists, player personnel evaluators from the Canadian Football League, former NCAA players connected to Canada and the panelists from the TSN Krown Gridiron Nation TV programs.
3DownNation draft analysts Justin Dunk, John Hodge, and JC Abbott all cast ballots for this year’s Jon Cornish Trophy.