Johnson named Grey Cup MVP, Fantuz top Canadian
Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back James Johnson and wide receiver Andy Fantuz not only captured the Grey Cup Sunday, but they also picked up individual honours.
Johnson was named the game's most valuable player and Fantuz the most valuable Canadian for their efforts inSaskatchewan's 23-19 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 95th Grey Cup.
Johnson intercepted three Ryan Dinwiddie passes, including one for a 30-yardtouchdown that tied the game 7-7 at 12:26 of the second quarter.
"James played his butt off today. He deserves to be player of the game, player of the week, player of the year right now," veteran Roughriders defensive back Eddie Davis told CBCSports.ca reporter Doug Harrison. "That was a heckuva effort out there.
"[Blue Bombers slotback Milt] Stegall is one of the best all-time and James did a great job out there stopping him."
Johnson's three picks set a new Grey Cup record.Ten players hadgrabbed two interceptions in the championship game.
Johnson,a 27-year-old native of Los Angeles, Calif., had five interceptions during the regular season
"I watched his whole progression throughout the week. He was a homebody, he was a bookworm, he continued to watch film and he was prepared for this game," second-year defensive back Lance Frazier told Harrison after the game. "It's not surprising at all that he performed the way he did.
"He has great God-given talent, he's explosive, he's fast, the whole nine [yards]," added Frazier, Johnson's roommate on the road. "But on top of that he's smart. He's a student of the game."
Fantuz,a23-year-old native of Chatham, Ont., hauled in four catches for 70 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown at3:30 of the fourth quarter to give the Roughriders the lead.
"There's no other guy more deserving of that [most valuable Canadian] award, not just for this game but also for the entire season," receiver D.J. Flick told Harrison.
"When [wide receiver] Matt Dominguez went down [with an injury] and [wide receiver] Mike Washington went down [with an injury], they [reporters] kind of wrote us off as a receiving corps. And guys like Fantuz and I stepped up, Corey Grant stepped up and Yo Murphy stepped up. We tried to carry the team like everyone else and look where we're at right now."
Awards are nothing new to Fantuz, a former University of Western Ontario standout, who was the 2005 recipient of the Hec Crighton Trophy as the top university player in Canada.
He left Western with Canadian records for most catches (189), yards (4,123) and is currently tied for fourth in touchdowns (41).
Fantuz wasn't too shabby this season, his second in the CFL.After a case of the dropsies early in the season, he caught 56 passes for 978 yards and seven touchdowns and his average of 17.5 yards per catch was among the league's best.
"When he catches the ball he's hungry to get more," veteran centre Jeremy O'Day told Harrison."He went through his ups and downs this year and give credit to him, he didn't put his head down, he fought. He's a sparkplug of the offence, that's for sure.
"You gotta put him up there with Ray Elgaard [former standout Riders receiver and Canadian Football Hall of Famer]. He's a big receiver [six-foot-four, 220 pounds], he's got the attitude, he's got something special about him. He's got a little bit of cockiness, not too much, just enough."