The race for the top Canadian player in the NCAA is down to the final vote.
Five Canadian athletes are on the final ballot for the Jon Cornish Trophy as selected by a panel of voters from across Canada. The winner will be announced on April 19.
The Jon Cornish Trophy is awarded annually to the Canadian student-athlete selected as the most outstanding player in NCAA Football. The winner is chosen by voters consisting of Canadian journalists and panellists.
The award is named after Jon Cornish, a former high school football player from British Columbia and standout college running back at the University of Kansas. Cornish later went on to win three Most Outstanding Canadian awards and one Most Outstanding Player award in the CFL as a member of the Calgary Stampeders.
RB Chase Brown, Junior — Illinois
After a slow start, the London, Ont. native caught fire and led his team with 170 carries for 1,005 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, along with 14 receptions for 142 receiving yards in 2021. He finished third in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (100.5), fifth in the Big Ten, and 27th in the nation in rushing yards per carry (5.9).
The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Ran for 223 yards on 33 carries and one touchdown at No. 7 Penn State to help Illinois win the longest game in college football history by a score of 20-18 in nine overtime periods. Brown’s 223 rushing yards were the most ever by an opponent at Beaver Stadium, the fourth-most ever against Penn State, and the most ever by an Illini against a ranked opponent.
Brown registered a career-high 257 rushing yards on 26 attempts and two touchdowns with an average of 9.9 yards per carry against Charlotte, joining Howard Griffith (1990) and Rashard Mendenhall (2007) as the only players in program history with multiple 200-yard rushing games in a single season.
He was recognized on the All-Big Ten third team (coaches and media), PFF All-Big Ten third team, and Phil Steel All-Big Ten third team.
LB Jesse Luketa, Senior — Penn State
The Ottawa native was a leader on a dominant Penn State defence, playing both defensive end and linebacker in the 2021 season, showcasing his athletic versatility. In 12 games, the third-team Big Ten selection registered 34 solo tackles, 61 total tackles, 8.5 TFL, and an interception return for a TD against Ball State.
Standout games included a five-tackle, two-and-a-half tackle for loss, and two-quarterback hit effort at Iowa and a nine-tackle, one-tackle for loss game against Arkansas.
An explosive lateral athlete with impressive run-stopping ability, Luketa looks to be selected in the mid-rounds of the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
REC Nick Mardner, Junior — Hawai’i
2021 proved to be a breakout year for the Football North grad out of Mississauga, Ont. He started all 13 games with the Warriors and made 46 receptions for 913 yards and five touchdowns, earning a Mountain West honourable mention.
He registered three 100-yard games, all on the road, and three five-plus reception games. Mardner exercised the transfer window in December and will play his 2022 senior season at Cincinnati.
REC John Metchie III, Junior — Alabama
Last year’s winner of the Cornish Trophy followed up the 2020 season with an even better on in 2021. The native of Brampton, Ont. started 13 games in 2021, garnering second-team All-SEC honors with a team-high 96 receptions for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns before suffering a torn ACL in the conference title game and missed the team’s playoff run.
He piled up four 100-yard receiving games with a season-high of 173 against Arkansas. Metchie was born in Taiwan. His mother is Taiwanese and his father is from Nigeria. His family moved to Ghana when he was young, then emigrated to Canada when he was six years old. His brother, Royce Metchie, is a defensive back for the Toronto Argonauts.
REC Jared Wayne, Junior — Pittsburgh
The native of Peterborough, Ont. played in 13 games in 2021, starting four and finished second on the team in receptions (47), receiving yards (658) and receiving touchdowns (tied with six). A former high school quarterback, Wayne was also utilized on gadget plays and finished 2-of-3 passing for 36 yards and a TD.
He matched his career-high with 100 receiving yards against Western Michigan and twice equaled his career high of six receptions: Massachusetts (for 55 yards) and Miami (78 yards and a touchdown). He had five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown at Duke.
Wayne threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Lucas Krull at Tennessee, giving his team a 14-13 lead. He also connected with Krull on a 20-yard completion against Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game.
2017-18 — Nathan Rourke — So./QB — Ohio Bobcats/Oakville, Ont.
2018-19 — Nathan Rourke — Jr./QB — Ohio Bobcats/Oakville, Ont.
2019-20 — Chuba Hubbard — So./RB — Oklahoma State Cowboys/Sherwood Park, Alta.
2020-21 — John Metchie III — So./REC — Alabama Crimson Tide/Brampton, Ont.
2021-22 — TBD — April 19, 2022