Blue Bombers announce team award winners
The Canadian Football League today announced the six team winners for the 2023 Most Outstanding Player Awards.
The voting was conducted by members of the local chapter of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and the league’s head coaches. The following players are the Blue Bombers’ nominees for the league awards:
–Most Outstanding Player: running back Brady Oliveira
–Most Outstanding Canadian Player: running back Brady Oliveira*
-Most Outstanding Defensive Player: defensive end Willie Jefferson*
–Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick
–Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: placekicker Sergio Castillo*
–Most Outstanding Rookie: punter Jamieson Sheahan
*Indicates unanimous selection
Most Outstanding Player/Most Outstanding Canadian Player
Brady Oliveira is piecing together a historic season for the Blue Bombers. The Winnipeg product leads the CFL in rushing with 1,498 yards and nine touchdowns and has added another 482 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 38 receptions, also all career highs. His 1,980 yards from scrimmage (rushing and passing) also leads the CFL.
Oliveira’s 1,498 rushing yards is the second most by a Canadian in league history, behind only the 1,813 Jon Cornish amassed in 2013. It is also the eighth highest total in Blue Bombers history. Also of note: Oliveira has averaged 88.1 yards rushing per game and has seven 100-yard performances this season, both also league highs.
These are the first team awards for the 26-year-old, now in his second year as the club’s feature back. He was selected by the Blue Bombers in the second round, 14th overall, in the 2019 CFL Draft.
Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Willie Jefferson has now been named the Blue Bombers’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player three times including 2019 and 2022, and he captured the CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award in 2019 – the same year he was also named the club’s Most Outstanding Player. This is Jefferson’s sixth team nomination, having also been named the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2018.
Jefferson continues to be a force from his defensive end position, with a team-leading 11 quarterback sacks, three forced fumbles – tied for second in the CFL – and 13 pass knockdowns (most in the league), and 21 defensive tackles.
Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman
Jermarcus Hardrick has earned his first team nomination, breaking a run by teammate Stanley Bryant, who was saluted as the Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Offensive Linemen from 2017-22 and won league honours four times. A physical presence along the line of scrimmage, Hardrick has anchored the right side of an offence that leads the league in points (31.5), net offence (411.8 yards per game) and ranks first in rushing yards (137.1 per game), second in passing yards (291.6 per game) and has the league’s leading rusher in Oliveira and the top-rated passer in quarterback Zach Collaros. Winnipeg’s 32 sacks allowed is tied for second in the CFL with Calgary, with Toronto first at 17.
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player
Sergio Castillo is in his third stint with the Blue Bombers, having first signed with the club in 2015, rejoining the team via trade in October of 2021 and then being scooped up as a free agent this spring following his release by the Edmonton Elks.
He is third in the CFL with 50 field goals and third in percentage at 89.1, hitting on 41 of 46 attempts. He has also connected on 54 of 59 convert attempts. His 89.1 field goal percentage heading into the final game of the regular season ranks second highest in team history, behind only Justin Medlock’s 89.4 mark, set in 2018.
This is Castillo’s first team nomination as a member of the Blue Bombers and second of his career. The 32-year-old was named the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player with the B.C. Lions in 2019, the same season he was named to the CFL All-Star Team.
Most Outstanding Rookie
Jamieson Sheahan was selected eighth overall by the Blue Bombers in the 2023 CFL Global Draft and earned the punting chores in training camp. He has posted a 46.3-yard punting average this season and has dropped nine kicks inside the opponents’ 10-yard line – tied for second most in the CFL and accomplished by punting 30-40 times less than the league leaders. Sheahan is also the team’s holder on placekicks.
A product of Bendigo, Australia, Sheahan kicked collegiately at the University of California before turning pro.
The next round of voting for the CFL awards will see the West and East Division winners announced, followed by the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Awards announced during Grey Cup week in Hamilton.