Most Outstanding Player
Anthony Calvillo, QB, Alouettes
Travis Lulay, QB, Lions
Calvillo led the league in passing yards and completions, and tied for most touchdowns with Lulay. He also broke league records for touchdown passes, passing yards and completions in a career. Despite starting the season 0-5, Lulay rebounded to lead the West Division in passing yards and the B.C. Lions to a tie for the league’s best record on the way to his first MOP nomination.
While the stats favour Calvillo, many felt his top receiver, Jamel Richardson, should have been named Montreal’s nominee for MOP. Also, with an Alouettes season that was less than stellar, a final game implosion, and the awards being held in Vancouver, this award may be destined for Lulay.
Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Jovon Johnson, DB, Blue Bombers
Jerrell Freeman, LB, Roughriders
Johnson was arguably the best player on a strong Blue Bomber defence — grabbing eight interceptions and running two of them in for touchdowns. Freeman was the only player this year to pass the century mark in tackles (105) while also sacking the quarterback six times, tying him for top spot among linebackers.
It’s hard to choose between the two, but the edge goes to the player on the better defensive squad.
Most Outstanding Canadian
Sean Whyte, P/K, Alouettes
Jerome Messam, RB, Eskimos
Whyte led the East with 197 points scored, while being 86.5 per cent accurate on field goal tries this year. Messam, one year after being released by the Lions due to behavioural issues, became the first Canadian since 2000 to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.
Whyte seems to be the beneficiary of a weak Canadian class in the East, and all four nominees in the West (Messam, Calgary’s Jon Cornish, B.C.’s Paul McCallum, and Saskatchewan’s Chris Getzlaf) could also have won Most Outstanding Canadian.
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player
Chad Owens, KR, Argonauts
Paul McCallum, P/K, Lions
Owens had 2,609 combined return yards this season, which led the league. He also pitched in with two special teams touchdowns. McCallum, at the age of 41, set two CFL records by kicking 29 straight field goals and having a 94.3 per cent field goal success rate.
The league’s best returner vs. the league’s best kicker is an interesting matchup. Usually, the returner would win, but McCallum’s season will be hard to replicate in the future.
Most Outstanding Rookie
Chris Williams, WR, Tiger-Cats
J.C. Sherritt, LB, Eskimos
Williams, out of New Mexico State, led the Ti-Cats with 1,064 receiving yards while scoring six touchdowns in the process. Sherritt, out of eastern Washington, had 72 tackles and three sacks with the Eskies this season. Sherritt was third in tackles with Edmonton, while Williams became Kevin Glenn’s top receiving threat in an offence that has had its ups and downs this year.
B.C.’s Solomon Elimimian won this award last year with similar numbers to Sherritt, but Williams is one of the CFL’s best rookie receivers in a long time.
Most Outstanding Lineman
Josh Bourke, OT, Alouettes
Jovan Olafioye, OT, Lions
It’s hard to quantify a lineman’s ability with statistics other than the amount of sacks their teams have given up. This season, the Lions gave up 29 sacks — lowest in the league — providing much needed stability for first-year, full-time starter Lulay. The Als finished second to the Lions after giving up 34 sacks. Bourke missed the last two games of the season, when Montreal played its worst football. This may be a sign of how valuable Bourke was to that offensive line.