Early nominees for top CFL honours

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

If this season continues down the path it's headed, there's a real chance we will see a rematch of 2008.

Forget the Grey Cup for a second.

At the midway point of the 2010 CFL season, the clear frontrunners for the top individual award should be the same as 2008, when Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo edged out Calgary Stampeders pivot Henry Burris for most outstanding player.

Now that the first half is complete, there is enough of a sample size to project which way the league awards are headed.

Calvillo actually furthered his status for a third straight MOP award by sitting out last week against the B.C. Lions. The Als fell apart without their pivot in action, showing just how important he is to the defending champs' success.

His 17 TDs, three interceptions and 111.6 passer rating is worthy again.

While Burris probably should have won the honour in 2008 -- his team did beat Calvillo's twice and the numbers were similar -- voters will have to ignore his interception total this season when judging his performance.

The best thing Burris can do is continue to win. The best player on the best team should win the MOP every season, but that doesn't always happen.

But with 21 TDs through nine games, Burris is on a career-best pace, but he has thrown 13 picks. Who knows where he might end up if he didn't come out and let backup Drew Tate throw for four TDs already this season?

Other deser ving candidates are Hamilton Tiger-Cats QB Kevin Glenn, Tiger-Cats wide receiver Arland Bruce and Toronto Argonauts running back Cory Boyd.

Burris will be more of a shoo-in if his Stamps continue to dominate in the second half, and the veteran can make a better case for the award in back-to-back games against the Als in October.

Our choice: Burris.

Most Outstanding Canadian

There are four major candidates, and all but one would be first-time nominees for their respective divisions.

Stampeders running back Jon Cornish has made the most of his limited opportunities, and there is no question he's a difference maker with the league's top team. Cornish sits ninth in CFL rushing and has an outstanding 8.8-yard rushing average when he spells No. 2- rusher Joffrey Reynolds.

Cornish will be challenged by Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Andy Fantuz, who just needs to stay healthy to get his first 1,000-yard season.

Toronto Argonauts linebacker Kevin Eiben, who twice was the East Division nominee (2004-05), is leading the CFL in defensive tackles. The more surprising season is that of Ticats receiver Dave Stala, who has caught 45 passes this season.

Our choice: Cornish.

Most Outstanding Rookie

This race is always questioned because the CFL has to determine who are true rookies. Several first-year players, such as Boyd, played a game in the NFL and are ineligible.

The two top candidates might go head-to-head in the special teams category as well.

Stamps returner Deon Murphy is second in the league in all-purpose yardage while also scoring four TDs on offence. Ticats returner Marcus Thigpen has scored a touchdown five different ways to set a CFL record.

Our choice: Thigpen

Most Outstanding Defensive Player

The biggest competition will be who the nominee is from the league's best defence in Calgary. There is a case to be made for cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Dwight Anderson, defensive tackles Tom Johnson and DeVone Claybrooks and middle linebacker Juwan Simpson. Our choice off that team is linebacker Malik Jackson, who does everything well and is a force in every single game.

The East Division nominee should be Alouettes defensive end John Bowman, who is one of the most underrated players in the CFL. He has four forced fumbles and seven sacks in nine games.

Our choice: Bowman.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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