11 Blue Bombers named Division All-Stars
The Canadian Football League today unveiled its 2023 divisional all-star teams, with 11 members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers named to the West squad.
Honoured as West Division All-Stars are quarterback Zach Collaros, running back Brady Oliveira, receivers Nic Demski and Dalton Schoen, offensive tackles Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick, guard Pat Neufeld, defensive end Willie Jefferson, cornerback Demerio Houston, defensive back Evan Holm, and safety Brandon Alexander.
The voting for this round was conducted by members of The Football Reporters of Canada, the FRC’s national chapter and head coaches in the West Division.
Zach Collaros earned divisional all-star honours for the third straight year after setting a career high with 4,252 yards passing and throwing for a league-high 33 touchdowns in 16 starts.
The Blue Bombers were 12-4 in his starts this year and now a remarkable 45-9 in games in which he has taken the first snap since his arrival at the trade deadline in October of 2019, including Grey Cup championships in 2019 and 2021. This past season he moved into the CFL’s Top 20 for all-time passing yardage.
Brady Oliveira led the CFL in rushing with 1,534 yards and 13 touchdowns (nine rushing, four receiving), averaging 85.2 yards per game and posting seven 100-yard contests. Oliveira also had 482 receiving yards on 38 receptions – both career highs – and his 2,016 yards from scrimmage (rushing and passing) led the CFL.
Oliveira’s rushing total is the second most by a Canadian in league history, behind only the 1,813 Jon Cornish amassed in 2013 as a member of the Calgary Stampeders, and the sixth highest total in Blue Bombers history. This is his first berth on the West Division All-Star Team.
Nic Demski cracked the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career, pulling in 67 passes for 1,006 yards and six touchdowns, adding another 136 yards rushing on 16 carries. This is Demski’s third divisional all-star berth, having been also selected in 2021 and 2022.
Dalton Schoen followed up his sensational rookie campaign with a stellar 2023 season, finishing with 71 receptions for 1,222 yards and 10 touchdowns. In just 34 games as a member of the Blue Bombers, last year’s CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Player has 141 receptions for 2,663 yards and 26 touchdowns. His 10 touchdowns in 2023 led all receivers.
Stanley Bryant, the four-time CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman just keeps getting it done on the left side of the Blue Bombers line. This is his eighth divisional all-star award after also being selected in 2013-14 and 2017-22. The 37-year-old vet was part of an offence that led the CFL in scoring, had the league’s rushing champ in Oliveira and the leading touchdown passer in Collaros while surrendering the second-fewest sacks.
Jermarcus Hardrick, the Blue Bombers’ nominee this year for the Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and the representative for the award from the West Division, has been named a divisional all-star for the fourth time in his career after previously being selected in 2017, 2021 and 2022. Hardrick is now in his sixth season with the Blue Bombers.
Pat Neufeld has earned his third divisional all-star berth in his 12th CFL season, the last nine with the Blue Bombers. A fixture at the right guard spot, Neufeld is an integral part of the team’s leadership core and played a crucial role in the success of the offence.
Willie Jefferson was named the Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Defensive Player for a third time last week and has earned a spot on the West Division All-Star team for the sixth consecutive season after previously being named from 2017-19 and 2021-22. Jefferson posted 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.
Demerio Houston led the CFL in interceptions this year with seven, despite missing three games. A dangerous ball-hawk, he also had a critical pick-6 in a close win over Calgary in August and finished with 50 defensive tackles and three fumble recoveries.
Evan Holm has been named a divisional all-star for the first time in his career and in his second season as a Blue Bomber. He finished second on the club to Adam Bighill with 64 defensive tackles, adding four more on special teams, while registering two sacks and two interceptions. His 12 pass knockdowns tied for second in the league with teammate Deatrick Nichols – one behind Jefferson.
Brandon Alexander has been named a divisional all-star for the second time in his career after being named a West and CFL All-Star in 2021. The veteran safety finished with 41 defensive tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Blue Bombers and remains one of the most important voices in the locker room.