Ricky Ray had one of the most prolific seasons of his illustrious 15-year career in 2017 and set numerous milestones along the way. Ray became the fourth member of the 60,000 pass-yard club joining Anthony Calvillo, Damon Allen and Henry Burris. He became the third quarterback in CFL history to throw for 5,000 yards in at least four seasons. In Week 3 against Ottawa, Ray threw his 300th career passing touchdown, becoming the seventh player to achieve the feat. The 38-year-old became the Argos franchise leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and pass attempts, having already held the all-time mark for completions. His 474 completions in 2017 were the third-most in CFL history and his 13 games of at least 300 passing yards are tied for second in league history. Ray achieved the distinct honour this season of being the first quarterback in CFL history with 100+ passing touchdowns for two teams, finishing the campaign with 114 in Double Blue and 210 with the Edmonton Eskimos. Ray’s 506 yards in Week 1 vs. Hamilton were a new career-high and the highest total in the CFL this year.
Now in his sixth season with Toronto, Ray finished the regular-season ranked first in completions (474), tied for first in completion percentage (71.0%), second in pass-yards (5,546) and tied for second in touchdowns (28). The ageless Ray was also awarded two top performer awards in Weeks 1 and 20. This is the former Sacramento State Hornet’s fourth All-Star nomination after being recognized in 2006, 2013 and 2014 as well.
S.J. Green also had a banner year in his first season with the Double Blue. A year after suffering a devastating knee injury with the Montreal Alouettes and being told he may never play again, Green defied the odds by catching 104 passes for 1,462 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those receptions and yards totals are far and away new career highs for the 11-year veteran. In Week 2 vs. Ottawa, he posted his first career regular season 200-yard game with 210 yards and a touchdown reception against the Redblacks.
Green was the most targeted receiver in the CFL this year (169) and he made the most of those opportunities as he finished the year ranked first in receptions of at least 20 yards (23), second in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The former South Florida Bull finished the season moving up from 61st to 43rd on the all-time receiving list and currently sits at 8,088 yards for his career. Green took home four weekly Top Performer Awards in Weeks 1, 3, 9 and 17. This is Green’s sixth All-Star nomination in seven years after earning honours from 2011 through 2015.
Sean McEwen started every game in 2017 and has now played in every regular-season game in his two years with the Argos. McEwen, who played his university ball at Calgary, was a rock in the middle of Toronto’s O-Line opening big holes for breakout running back James Wilder to run through and giving Ricky Ray plenty of time in the pocket to spread the ball around. He helped solidify an Argo offensive line ranked third in the CFL with an average of 5.5 yards per carry and was penalized just once the entire campaign. This is McEwen’s first All-Star nod.
Chris Van Zeyl has been with the club since 2009 and is the Argo’s longest-tenured player having played in 139 games with 130 starts. VanZeyl once again started all 16 games he played in this season helping anchor an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks of any Argos team since 2012 (40). This is the McMaster product's fourth All-Star recognition, previously being awarded the honour in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Victor Butler was a force to be reckoned with immediately upon his arrival in the league, posting eight sacks, 13 tackles, and two forced fumbles in his first three contests. The Oregon State product proved to be one of the best disrupters off the edge this season, finishing the year ranked second in sacks (10) while leading the league with four forced fumbles despite missing six games on the injured list. In just 12 games, Butler tacked on 31 defensive tackles to finish eighth on the team.
Dylan Wynn, also an Oregon State product, was a key contributor since working his way into the starting defensive tackle spot early in the season. Wynn finished his rookie campaign tied for sixth in the league with six sacks while adding 34 tackles in 15 starts. His 16 quarterback pressures ranked third on a unit that led the league in sacks, and his four tackles for a loss was tied for the team-high.
Cleyon Laing, in his second stint with Toronto after playing for the club from 2013-2015, played just 11 games due to injury but was a game-changer during his time on the field. The native of Edmonton, Alberta, recorded five sacks, 10 tackles, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries to earn the second East All-Star nod of his CFL career (2015).
Marcus Ball was one of the emotional leaders on a much-improved Double Blue defence that allowed the second-fewest yards per game in the CFL this season at 329.1, the team’s lowest mark since 2007. In his third season with the Argos, the vocal linebacker tallied 57 defensive tackles, seven special team tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble on the year. Ball needed little time to re-acclimate himself to the Canadian game after a three-year stint in the NFL, recording at least four tackles in 10 of his 14 games played in 2017.
Cassius Vaughn was a ballhawk all year long and once he got the ball in his hands he proved to be lethal returning it the other way. Vaughn finished the season tied for third in the league in interceptions with five and led the league in interception return yards with 209, including a league-best 115-yard return touchdown in Week 10 against Calgary. Vaughn’s 209 interception return yards mark the second-best season in Argo history. The Memphis, Tennessee, native also added 32 tackles in his first season in Double Blue.
Rico Murray was the lone Argonaut to start all 18 games on the defence, playing every position in the secondary except for safety this season for Toronto. The versatile Kent State product recorded 56 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, his 10th career interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in his first season in Double Blue. This marks Murray's second divisional All-Star nomination after previously being awarded in 2014 as a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.