Whyte Crapigna, Hajrullahu, Fantuz and Woods earn multiple CFL award nominations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Whyte Crapigna, Hajrullahu, Fantuz and Woods earn multiple CFL award nominations

Saskatchewan Roughriders kicker Tyler Crapigna celebrates after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Ottawa Redblacks during CFL action in Regina on Friday, July 22, 2016. Kickers Sean Whyte and Crapigna, receiver Andy Fantuz and linebacker Bear Woods were all double nominees in the opening-round of voting for the CFL's outstanding player awards.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor
November 02, 2016 - 2:03 PM

TORONTO - There's a silver lining to the bitter end of Andy Fantuz's historic 2016 season.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats slotback was one of five double nominees Wednesday in opening-round voting for the CFL's outstanding player awards. Ballots were cast by members of the Football Reporters of Canada and the nine CFL head coaches.

Fantuz, in his 11th CFL season and fifth in Hamilton, was nominated as the Ticats' outstanding player and top Canadian. He suffered a serious knee injury in a 29-26 loss Friday night to the Edmonton Eskimos that will reportedly end his season.

The six-foot-four, 218-pound native of Chatham, Ont., was Hamilton's receiving leader with a career-high 101 catches for 1,059 yards and five TDs. Fantuz, a unanimous pick as the Ticats' top Canadian, is the first player in club history to crack the 100-catch plateau in a season.

"I think he's very deserving, he's had an unbelievable year," said Kent Austin, Hamilton's head coach/vice-president of football operations. "It's really, really a shame he didn't get to finish it out with his teammates.

"He had a great year and is still a valuable member of that room and helping to get guys ready to play to hopefully make a run in the playoffs."

Hamilton (7-10) finishes its regular season hosting Montreal (6-11) on Saturday. The Ticats have already clinched second spot in the East Division and will host the conference semifinal Nov. 13.

Fantuz, 32, was the CFL's top Canadian in 2010 with Saskatchewan. He had 87 catches for a career-high 1,380 yards —his first 1,000-yard receiving campaign — and six TDs that season.

Kickers Sean Whyte, Lirim Hajrullahu and Tyler Crapigna as well as linebacker Bear Woods also received multiple nominations.

Whyte, Hajrullahu and Crapigna were named the top Canadian and special-teams player for the Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders, respectively, while Woods got the nod as the Montreal Alouettes' outstanding player and defensive performer.

The division nominees will be announced next week. The CFL will honour its top individual performers Nov. 24 in Toronto.

Woods required surgery last year for a pectoral muscle injury but the 29-year-old has responded with a team-record 123 tackles this season. He's also registered five sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles, recovering one.

Whyte, 31, has made 43-of-46 field goals (league-best 93.5 per cent). The native of White Rock, B.C., has also hit on 45-of-51 converts.

Crapigna, 24, of Ottawa, has made 35-of-40 field goals and 20-of-23 converts for 127 points.

Hajrullahu hit 36-of-41 field goal tries and has a 43.8-yard punting average in his first season with Toronto. The former Western star made 15 straight field goals earlier this season, tying Noel Prefontaine for the third-longest streak in Argos history.

Other notable nominations include linebacker Solomon Elimimian as B.C.'s top defensive player. Elimimian captured both the league's outstanding player and defensive player honours in 2014 before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury last year.

He's enters the final week of the 2016 regular season with a CFL-high 128 tackles and eight sacks.

CFL passing leader Mike Reilly (5,554 yards) was a unanimous selection as Edmonton's outstanding player while quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, defensive lineman Charleston Hughes, running back Jerome Messam and receiver DaVaris Daniels were all unanimous picks as Calgary's top player, defensive player, Canadian and rookie, respectively.

Mitchell led Calgary to a 15-1-1 record in his 17 starts, including a 14-game win streak and 16-game unbeaten streak. He didn't play in the Stampeders' season-ending 17-8 loss to Montreal.

But Mitchell has a CFL-high 32 TD strikes and is one of just two quarterbacks — Reilly is the other — to pass for more than 5,000 yards (5,385). Mitchell also threw for 300 or more yards 11 times this season and his 107.9 rating is tops among league starters.

Hughes has a CFL-leading 16 sacks and five times this year had two or more sacks in a game.

Messam, of Brampton, Ont., is the CFL rushing leader with a career-best 1,198 yards and scored 12 TDs, 11 coming on the ground. He was the CFL's top Canadian in 2011 when he ran for 1,057 yards while with Edmonton.

Daniels got the nod as Calgary's top rookie despite not making his pro debut until Aug. 19. The former Notre Dame star has 51 catches for 885 yards (17.4-yard average) and nine TDs as the Stampeders' second-leading receiver behind veteran Marquay McDaniel (83 catches, 1,074 yards, four touchdowns).

Defensive back Maurice Leggett, tied with teammate T.J. Heath for the CFL interceptions lead (seven) and kicker Justin Medlock (league-high 56 field goals, 212 points) were also unanimous picks as Winnipeg's top defensive player and special-teams performer (unanimous), respectively.

The other unanimous selections were running back/returner Chris Rainey and offensive lineman Antonio Johnson as B.C.'s top special-teams player and rookie, respectively. Rainey leads the CFL with 2,760 combined yards and has returned two punts for TDs while Johnson has started 14 games this season with the Lions.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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