The Canadian Football League announced today the Argonauts’ team award nominees for the 2011 Gibson’s Finest CFL Player Awards. At the head of the class is The Flyin’ Hawaiian, WR/KR Chad Owens, who was a dual nominee as the club’s Most Outstanding Player and the unanimous selection as Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. This is the second straight season Owens has been the unanimous selection as the team’s Outstanding Special Teams Player. Please see the table below for a complete list of Argos nominees.
The players were selected by voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and the CFL head coaches. In this first ballot, FRC representatives from each CFL city plus the respective head coach submitted votes for the six categories. Voters were asked to select players from their local CFL club who through on-field performance excellence, best represent the awards’ title – Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.
WR/KR Chad Owens
DE Ricky Foley
Outstanding Defensive Player:
DB Lin-J Shell
C Dominic Picard
Outstanding Special Teams Player:
WR/KR Chad Owens*
RB Chad Kackert
* – unanimous selection
WR/KR Chad Owens could be the most exciting player in the CFL for the second consecutive season. Late this year, he became the first player in professional football history to achieve back-to-back 3,000 yard seasons, joining CFL Hall of Fame RB Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as the only player to ever do it twice in a career. He was the CFL Player of the Week in week 10, he leads his team in receiving yards (722) and catches (70), in kickoff (1,750), punt (754) and missed field return (105) yards and is the league’s combined yards leader by more than a kilometre (3,345). Owens also leads all CFL players with two kick returns for touchdowns. This is the second straight season he has been the unanimous selection as the Argos’ Most Outstanding Special Teams Player and the first time in his career that he’s been name the club’s Most Outstanding Player. See below for a complete list of Owens’ 2011 milestones:
* First player in football history to accumulate 3,000 combined yards.
* Team & CFL leader in total combined yards. Ahead of the next closest (Marcus Thigpen) by more than 1,300 yards.
* On pace for the third-highest single-season combined yards total in league history.
* 56 yards from setting a new single-season record for kickoff return yards.
* Team & CFL leader in punt return and kickoff return yards for the second consecutive season.
* Team & CFL leader in punt (11.1) and kickoff return (25.4) yards average (among those with at least 20 returns in each category).
* Team leader in receiving yards and receptions.
* Leads CFL in kick return touchdowns (2).
DE Ricky Foley has been Mr. Everything for the Argos in 2011. He’s lined up on the defensive line, dropped into coverage and played special teams. The Courtice, Ontario native was named CFL Most Outstanding Canadian in week 13 for recording a multi-sack game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. As a defensive end, he has made 67 defensive tackles, which is good for third-most on the team and the most in the CFL by a true defensive lineman. Foley made his first career interception this season, is second on the team in sacks (5) and fumble recoveries (3 for 9 yards), and is third on the Double Blue with three tackles for a loss of 18 yards. He has also added two passes knocked down through 17 games. This is the first time Foley has been named the Argos’ nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian and the second time he’s been a team nominee for the award (B.C. Lions in 2009). In 2009, he went on to be named the West Division and CFL Most Outstanding Canadian.
DB Lin-J Shell is among the best defensive backs in the CFL. He leads all but three CFL players in defensive tackles (91) and, with one game left, should threaten the century mark. Doing so would make him the first Argos DB in history to have 100 defensive tackles in a season. Shell has been playing some of the best football of his CFL career down the stretch: recovering fumbles, picking off passes and making tackles almost at will. A known playmaker, he leads the Argos in fumble returns (5), is second on the team in interceptions (2) and pass knock downs (5), and has one sack on the season. This is the first time in his career that he’s been nominated at the club’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, and the second time he’s earned a team award; he was the Argos’ Most Outstanding Rookie in 2009.
Centre Dominic Picard is the glue that holds the Double Blue’s offensive line together. He’s played in every game as the club’s starting Centre and in front of three different starting quarterbacks. RB Cory Boyd achieved 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season behind Picard, and it’s the third straight year an Argos running back has broken the thousand-yard barrier – all behind the Angry Frenchman. In fact, Picard is the first Centre in Argos history to clear a path for three-straight thousand-yard rushers (dating back to 2009). Toronto leads the league in net rushing yards (2,149), average yards per run (6.4) and average rushing yards per game (126.4). This is the first time Picard has been named the Argos’ nominee for Most Outstanding Lineman and the first time in his career that he’s won a team award.
RB Chad Kackert has played in only six games this season but made a lasting impact. He tied for first on the Argos for touchdowns scored with five and is still the club’s third-leading rusher at 349 yards for an impressive 6.1 yards per carry. Kackert also caught 4 passes for 58 yards, even scoring a receiving major, to place him seventh on the club’s total yards from scrimmage list. He infused excitement into games as he earned a reputation from fans as being a player who could score on any play and from anywhere on the field.
The East and West nominees for the 2011 Gibson’s Finest CFL Player Awards will be announced on Wednesday, November 9 at Noon ET. The league-wide winners will be announced during Grey Cup week at the Gibson’s Finest CFL Player Awards on Thursday, November 24 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, B.C.