Wednesday, November 1, 2017 — TORONTO – The Canadian Football League (CFL) announced today the team nominees for the 2017 CFL Outstanding Player Awards. The nominations are voted on by the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and CFL head coaches. The Argonauts nominees include:
RICKY RAY / Quarterback – Most Outstanding Player *Unanimous Selection*
In his 15th CFL season, Ricky Ray has shattered team and personal records from start to finish. Ranked second in the league and first in the East in passing yards entering Week 20, Ray’s total of 5,205 yards is already a new personal-best in Double Blue and the third-highest single-season total of his career.
After entering the season as the team’s all-time leader in completions, Ray became the new franchise leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and attempts early in the season, leapfrogging all-time great Condredge Holloway in each category. He enters Week 20 as the only QB in Argos history with 100+ touchdown passes and is in striking distance of becoming the first Argo to reach 1,700 career completions and 20,000 passing yards.
During Week 18 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ray became the fourth quarterback in league history with 60,000+ passing yards while becoming just the third player to record four or more seasons of 5,000+ passing yards.
Here is a full list of milestones that the 15-year veteran has accomplished in 2017:
- Career-high 506 passing yards - Week 1 vs. HAM
- Fourth QB in CFL history with 55,000 career passing yards - Week 1 vs. HAM
- Sixth QB in CFL history with 300+ passing touchdowns - Week 3 at OTT
- Fourth-highest single-game pass completions total (40) in CFL history - Week 5 vs. OTT
- New franchise leader in passing yards (16,620) and pass attempts (1,989) - Week 6 at SSK
- Sixth straight game with 300+ passing yards - Week 6 at SSK
- New franchise leader in passing touchdowns (99) - Week 9 vs. MTL
- First QB in CFL history with 100+ passing touchdowns for two teams - Week 9 vs. MTL
- First personal 5,000-yard passing season since 2008 - Week 18 vs. WPG
- Third QB in CFL history with four seasons of 5,000+ passing yards - Week 18 vs. WPG
- Fourth QB in CFL history with 60,000 career passing yards – Week 18 vs. WPG
- New Argos record for 300-yard passing games in a season (12) – Week 18 vs. WPG
- New Argos record for pass completions in a season (448) – Week 18 vs. WPG
- Fourth-highest single-season pass completion percentage in Argos history (70.7)
- Third-highest single-season passing yards total in Argos history (5,205)
BEAR WOODS / Linebacker – Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Bear Woods has been a leader on the Argonauts defence all season long. Despite one game with an injury, Woods leads the Argos and ranks sixth in the CFL with 87 defensive tackles. The 2016 East Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player ranks eighth in the CFL in total defensive plays, adding a special teams tackle, two sacks and four pressures in his first season in Double Blue. Woods has tallied five or more tackles on 11 separate occasions in 2017, posting a season-high nine tackles against Winnipeg in Week 4 and Calgary in Week 7.
SEAN MCEWEN / Centre – Most Outstanding Canadian / Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman
One year after being named the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie, Sean McEwen has continued to be a rock in the middle of the Argos offensive line. The second-year pro has not missed a single game in 2017 and is one of just three offensive players to start all 17 contests.
McEwen has helped anchor a unit that has seen seven other linemen make starts, including two with no prior CFL experience. The University of Calgary product has been a catalyst in a rushing attack that ranks third in yards per attempt (5.5) and remarkably has not been penalized once all season long.
MARTESE JACKSON / Kick Returner/Running Back – Most Outstanding Special Teams Player
Martese Jackson got his first game action as the primary kick returner in Week 4 at Winnipeg and immediately made an impact, earning CFL Top Performer of the Week honours. Against the Blue Bombers, Jackson totaled 339 return yards (148 punt return, 191 kick return) and scored his first career major on a 78-yard punt return in the first quarter. His 339 return yards were the fourth-most in CFL history and second-most in team history behind Bashir Levingston’s 345 yards.
Jackson enters Week 20 ranked second in the CFL in combined yards with 2,277 and second in kick return yards with 2,111. He has found the end zone four times in three different ways, scoring once as a receiver, twice on punt returns, and once on a missed field goal return. His 125-yard missed field goal return touchdown was the second-longest in team history, coming up just four yards short of the record.
Having already recorded the team’s most total kick return yards since Chad Owens in 2012, Jackson could move into fifth in team single-season history with 86 total return yards in Week 20 against BC.
JAMES WILDER JR. / Running Back – Most Outstanding Rookie
James Wilder Jr. kicked off the season on special teams, racking up seven tackles on punt and kickoff coverage units leading up to Week 13 against Edmonton. He then burst onto the scene following the Argos bye week, exploding for 257 combined yards (190 on the ground and 67 receiving) and a touchdown on 18 touches in a win over the Edmonton Eskimos. His rushing total (190) was the fourth-highest in Argos history and his 76-yard rushing touchdown was the league’s longest in 2017.
One week later, Wilder proved his breakout was not just a blip on the radar, rattling off another 218 combined yards (141 rushing and 77 receiving) against the Montreal Alouettes in another home win. His 331 rushing yards in the two contests was the largest total in a two-game stretch in Argos history. Wilder even managed to one-up himself with an 85-yard touchdown rush, again setting the season’s longest mark.
After a historic takeoff, Wilder has not faltered down the stretch, now ranking seventh in the league with 736 rushing yards on just 104 carries. The Florida State product leads all players by a significant margin with 7.1 yards per carry and his eight carries of 20+ yards are tied for most in the CFL. With three 100-yard performances in his last five games, Wilder trails only Ottawa’s William Powell (4) in 100-yard rushing games this season. The first-year back has been productive in the passing game as well, ranking fourth on the Argos in receiving yards (442) and fifth on the team in receptions (44) entering Week 20; his 383 yards after catch are a team-high.
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