Grey Cup-bound Brandon Banks snags CFL's most outstanding player award

Brandon Banks is the CFL's most outstanding player. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver captured the honour for the first time Thursday at the CFL awards banquet in voting conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada and nine league head coaches.

Ticats receiver amassed 112 catches for 1,550 yards, 13 touchdowns this season

Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Brandon Banks poses with the Grey Cup trophy during media day in Calgary on Thursday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Brandon Banks is the CFL's outstanding player.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver captured the honour for the first time Thursday at the CFL awards banquet in voting conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada and nine league head coaches.

Banks, 31, led the CFL in receiving this season with a club-record 112 catches for 1,550 yards and 13 TDs. He also ran 13 times for 56 yards and a TD, returned 13 punts for 140 yards, and five missed field goals for 283 yards (56.6-yard average) and two TDs.

Banks becomes the first Ticat to win the award since quarterback Danny McManus in 1998.

"June Jones is the reason I'm here in this position right now," Banks said. "He's probably the only coach to ever give me an opportunity to be who I wanted to be, no disrespect to any other coaches.

"He definitely rejuvenated my career. I always knew the player I was, I only needed an opportunity and a coach to believe in me."

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo was the award finalist. The first-year starter had career-highs in passing yards (4,302), rushing touchdowns (10) and touchdown passes (18), while completing 71.5 per cent of his attempts.

Fajardo led Saskatchewan (13-5) to top spot in the West Division for the first time since 2009. The native of Brea, Calif., was 12-4 as a starter and had six 300-yard passing performances.

Hamilton's Steinuaer top coach

Orlondo Steinuaer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is the CFL's coach of the year.

Steinauer, 46, of Seattle, enjoyed a stellar first season with Hamilton, leading the Ticats to a CFL-best 15-3 record. Steinauer tied the CFL record for regular-season wins by a first-year head coach in guiding the Ticats to their best regular season in franchise history.

"I'm extremely humbled and honoured to accept this award on behalf of the whole organization," Steinauer said. "It feels surreal because you can't get this done without everyone in the organization.

"It's not about you, it's a 'We' thing."

Hamilton was a perfect 9-0 at home this year and led the league in scoring (551) while allowing the fewest points (344).

Saskatchewan's Craig Dickenson was the finalist. The first-year head coach led the Riders (13-5) to first in the West Division for the first time since '09.

Alouettes linebacker Muamba takes home Canadian honour

Montreal Alouettes linebacker Henoc Muamba captured the CFL's top Canadian award.

The six-foot, 230-pound Muamba, a native of Zaire who grew up in Mississauga, Ont., finished second in the CFL in tackles with 93. He added one sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 17 regular-season games as Montreal (10-8) registered double-digit wins for the first time since 2012 and ended a five-year playoff drought.

Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Cameron Judge was the award finalist. The 2017 second overall draft pick from Montreal had 61 tackles, 12 special-teams tackles, five sacks and two interceptions as the Riders finished tied with Edmonton for most sacks (56) and led the CFL in lowest opponent net offence (294.4 yards per game).

Defensive award goes to Bombers' Jefferson

Defensive end Willie Jefferson of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is the CFL's top defensive player.

Jefferson, 28, had a career-high 12 sacks in his first season with Winnipeg. He also had a league-record 16 pass knockdowns to go with 24 tackles, an interception, six forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence was a finalist for the honour. The eight-year veteran led the CFL with a career-high 98 tackles with three interceptions, four sacks and seven pass knockdowns.

The native of Upper Darby, Pa., led all players with 117 defensive plays and anchored a Hamilton defence that posted league-bests in fewest offensive points (17.9 per game) and fewest touchdowns (33) allowed.

Ticats' lineman named top lineman

Tackle Chris Van Zeyl of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was named the CFL's top lineman Thursday night.

Van Zeyl, a 36-year-old native of Fonthill, Ont., anchored an offensive line that helped Hamilton lead the CFL in passing yards (5,626), touchdowns (48) and net offence (395.1 yards per game).

Hamilton takes on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Grey Cup on Sunday.

Winnipeg tackle Stanley Bryant was the finalist after winning the honour the previous two seasons. The six-foot-five, 313-pound native of Goldsboro, N.C., helped Winnipeg lead the CFL in rushing (147.9 yards per game) and pave the way for running back Andrew Harris to claim a third straight league rushing title (1,380 yards).

Stamps' Nate Holley named top rookie

Calgary Stampeders linebacker Nate Holley was named the CFL's top rookie Thursday night.

The six-foot, 210-pound Holley had 78 tackles, 22 special-teams tackles, a sack and an interception with Calgary. Holley, who played at Kent State, finished second in the league with 107 defensive plays.

The finalist was Montreal Alouettes receiver Jake Wieneke. The six-foot-four, 215-pound native of Maple Grove, Minn., had 41 catches for 569 yards and a team-high eight TDs.

Ticats' Williams is top special-teams performer

Frankie Williams of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was named the CFL's top special-teams performer Thursday night.

Williams, a 26-year-old native of Tampa, Fla., led the CFL in punt return yards (874) while registering 1,020 yards returning kickoffs.

He also registered two special-teams touchdowns this season.

Mike Miller of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was the award finalist. The native of Riverview, N.B., had 25 special-teams tackles, a league-record seven coming in a 29-14 win over Ottawa on July 5.


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