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Naylor’s Kickoff: The CFL’s season of change

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TSN Football Insider


Perhaps the C in CFL these days could stand for Change because 2019 has been a season that’s marked a definite changing of the guard when it comes to the league’s top players.

Just consider the nine team nominees for Most Outstanding Player. Only one of them, Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris, was nominated for this distinction a year ago, when he was the Redblacks’ nominee.

The other eight are newcomers to this stage. There are four receivers (B.C.’s Bryan Burnham, Toronto’s Derel Walker, Hamilton’s Speedy Banks and Calgary’s Reggie Begelton), two quarterbacks – neither of whom began the season as a starter – (Montreal’s Vernon Adams and Saskatchewan’s Cody Fajardo), a defensive end (Winnipeg’s Willie Jefferson) and a linebacker (Ottawa’s Avery Williams).

Similarly, of the nine nominees for Defensive Player of the Year, seven are new, with only Jefferson and Toronto’s Cleyon Laing back from a year ago.

Even among the Most Outstanding Canadian nominees, where the pool of elite players is smaller, there are eight new faces, with only Edmonton’s Kwaku Boateng nominated in back-to-back years.

Overall, there’s been a more than 85 per cent turnover among those nominated for top player, defensive player and Canadian.

The trend of change in the CFL is nowhere better illustrated than at the quarterback position.

There are currently just two quarterbacks in the league who have won a Grey Cup. And of the six teams qualified for the playoffs, at least half of them will have a quarterback making his first playoff start.

It’s been a season where a new crop of stars have established themselves. Now they’re ready to leave their mark on the playoffs.

With the CFL entering its final week of the regular season, Dave Naylor and Davis Sanchez reflect on the season that was and debate the best catch, run, pass and hit of the year.

The Andrew Harris debate

The name of Winnipeg Blue Bombers star running back Andrew Harris was nowhere to be found when the CFL’s nine teams released their nominees for the league’s annual year-end awards this week.

That, on the surface, might have seemed like a surprise, since Harris is not only the top Canadian on the Blue Bombers – most would argue he is also the team’s best player. Instead, those nominations went to Jefferson and special teamer Mike Miller. Jefferson has had a great year, but, on most teams, a star defensive end isn’t valued more than a running back who leads the league in rushing and........