Handing out the hardware — Predictions for the 2012 CFL Player Awards

Most Outstanding Player

Chad Owens, WR, Argonauts 

Jon Cornish, RB, Stampeders

For the first time since 2006, both finalists are not quarterbacks. Cornish is also the first Canadian to be nominated for MOP since former Stampeders slotback Dave Sapunjis in 1995. While both players had tremendous seasons, Owens managed to set a new pro football record for all-purpose yards in a single season (3,863), a record previously held by Argos legend Mike “Pinball” Clemons since 1997. The total is almost 1,200 yards greater than the nearest competitor, B.C. Lion Tim Brown (2,687) and includes a league-leading total of 1,328 yards receiving. In his first season as a starting tailback, Cornish had the best rushing season by a Canadian with a league-leading 1,457 yards breaking Normie Kwong’s 56-year-old record.

Owens’ numbers really stand out and are indicative of his versatility. As for Cornish, the only other Canadians who have won MOP are CFL legends Russ Jackson and Tony Gabriel. Cornish does not belong with those players – yet.


Most Outstanding Canadian

Jon Cornish, RB, Stampeders 

Shea Emry, LB, Alouettes

Cornish is a double nominee this year and, logically, is also up for Most Outstanding Canadian. As for Emry, he missed most of the 2011 season with a concussion but came back this year with career-highs in tackles (87) and sacks (7) and is ranked fifth in the CFL in both categories. On his only interception of the season, he also scored his first ever CFL touchdown. Emry’s season was impressive given his comeback from injury, but Cornish became the first Canadian to lead the league in rushing since Ottawa’s Orville Lee in 1988.
Most Outstanding Defensive Player

J.C. Sherritt, LB, Eskimos 

Shea Emry, LB, Alouettes

Emry is also nominated for Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Sherritt broke a CFL record with 130 tackles this season, surpassing former Argonaut Calvin Tiggle who had 129 in 1994. Sherritt also had five interceptions this season, which led all linebackers in the category and tied for second most in the CFL. It appears Emry may go home empty-handed when the ceremony is finished.
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player

Chris Williams, WR/KR, Tiger-Cats 

Tim Brown, RB/KR, Lions

Last year’s Most Outstanding Rookie did not have a sophomore slump in 2012. By Labour Day, Williams had six return touchdowns – five from punt returns, one from a missed field goal. He became the first player in CFL history to score that many return touchdowns in a single season as well as the first to have punt return touchdowns in three straight games. Brown was second in the league for combined return yards and all-purpose yards, trailing Chad Owens in both categories, as well as scoring two return touchdowns. Brown had a great season, but Williams’s season was more outstanding.
Most Outstanding Rookie

Chris Matthews, WR, Blue Bombers 

Jabar Westerman, DE, Lions

Despite an anemic Winnipeg passing offense, Matthews led his team with 81 catches for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns, surpassing veteran WR Terrence Edwards and making Bomber fans forget about now-Saskatchewan Roughrider Greg Carr. Meanwhile, Westerman is the first Canadian nominated for this award since Etienne Boulay for the Alouettes in 2006. However, with four sacks but only 14 tackles, it looks like the Bombers may get one trophy this year.
Most Outstanding Lineman

Jovan Olafioye, OT, Lions 

Josh Bourke, OT, Alouettes

Both players are nominated for the second straight year with Bourke winning the award in 2011. Both the Lions and the Alouettes allowed a league-low 30 sacks in 2012 but the Lions gain the edge in rushing yards, pass attempts, and for allowing fewer tackles for losses over the Alouettes. Those categories are what voters may look for when determining a winner this year and this year may be Olafioye’s turn.