Four of six finalists from Ontario.
OTTAWA & VANCOUVER – The race for the top Canadian player in the NCAA is down to the final vote. Six Canadian athletes are on the final ballot for the fourth Jon Cornish Trophy as selected by a panel of voters comprised of professional scouts and media across Canada.
The patrons have awarded previous Cornish Trophy presentations before the CFL and NFL Drafts. Due to FCS spring football extending into May, the decision was made to extend the process. Athletes are required 66 percent or more on the first ballot to advance to the final vote.
Four of the finalists list their home as the province of Ontario, while two – including 2019-20 winner Chuba Hubbard – hail from Alberta. The trophy will be presented on May 24.
HERE ARE THE FINALISTS:
Senior RS/Safety – Pickering, ON/West Virginia
The transfer from New Hampshire immediately asserted himself as a leader on a dynamic West Virginia defensive unit. In 10 games, he was second in tackles for the Mountaineers and tops in solo tackles with 38. He was led WVU in pass defence with two interceptions and seven pass breakups. A graduate of St. Mary’s (ON), he reclassified for a year at the Peddie School in New Jersey.
Junior RS/Running Back – Sherwood Park, AB/Oklahoma State
The leading rusher in the NCAA in 2019, the All-American and defending Cornish Trophy winner played through an injury-riddled 2020 year. Earned a spot on the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team for his work in the community, most notably for creating the non-profit organization Your Life, Your Choice, which exists to provide opportunities for underprivileged youths.
A first-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree was also a second-team All-Big 12 selection despite missing four games and being slowed by injury in two others. He played in only seven games but still finished with 625 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Averaged 89.3 rushing yards per game playing behind an offensive line was ravaged by injuries. He had six rushes of 20 yards or longer, highlighted by a spectacular 32-yard touchdown run against Iowa State. The Carolina Panthers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Senior/Offensive Tackle – Windsor, ON (Detroit, MI)/Iowa
Jackson started all 42 games he dressed for Iowa. In 2020, he was selected second-team All-America by AFCA, third-team All-America by Phil Steele, first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and media, first-team All-Big Ten by Associated Press and Phil Steele and named to Outland Trophy preseason watch list.
He started all eight games at left tackle. He played every offensive down in 24-20 loss at Purdue as the offense gained 460 yards total offense. He played every offensive down in a 21-20 loss to Northwestern. He started at left tackle in a 49-7 win over Michigan State as the offense rushed for 226 yards and gained 405 total yards. He started at left tackle in a 35-7 win at Minnesota as the offense rushed for 235 yards. He started at left tackle and played every offensive down in 41-21 win at Penn State as the offense gained 175 net rushing yards. He started at left tackle and played every offensive down in a 26-20 win over Nebraska. He started at left tackle in a 35-21 win at Illinois as offense gained 424 yards total offense. He started at left tackle and played every offensive down in a 28-7 win over #25 Wisconsin.
JOHN METCHIE III
Sophomore/Receiver – Brampton, ON/Alabama
Metchie began the year as the Tide’s No. 3 wideout and expanded his role following the injury to Jaylen Waddle. He averaged 16.7 yards per catch to rank seventh in the SEC, totalling 916 yards and six touchdowns on 55 catches.
He converted a first down or scored a touchdown on 35 of his receptions as a sophomore. He was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List after the Tennessee matchup. He was selected as one of the offensive players of the week by the Alabama coaches for his play against Texas A&M. He was named a special teams player of the week by the UA coaches following Ole Miss.
Against Texas A&M, he led all wideouts with 181 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches scoring from 78 and 63 yards out for the Tide’s first and last scores of the game. He earned offensive player of the week recognition from the Tide coaches for his efforts.
Against Ole Miss, he picked up special teams’ player of the week recognition from the Alabama coaches after recovering the Rebels’ attempt at an onside kick late in the fourth quarter. He contributed four catches for 75 yards on offense.
Versus Tennessee, he led the Tide pass-catchers with 151 yards on a team-high tying seven catches and converted a first down on six of his catches with a long gain of 45 yards.
Senior/Linebacker – Calgary, AB/Oklahoma State
The Nigerian-born Notre Dame Pride (Calgary) graduate was the leader of the Oklahoma State defence in 2020 at middle linebacker. A semi-finalist for the 2020 Lott IMPACT Trophy who was OSU’s leading tackler in six of its 11 games, Ogbongbemiga was named second-team All-Big 12 by the coaches and the AP. The coaches also picked him as an honourable mention for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. First-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree. He was voted as a team captain by his teammates for the second consecutive season. Selected in the preseason for the Butkus Award watch list and started every game for the Cowboys and served as a game captain vs. Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor and Miami. Finished the season as OSU’s second-leading tackler with 81, just one short of Malcolm Rodriguez’s 82. His 51 solo tackles also tied for the second-most on the team.
Led the team in tackles vs. West Virginia (13), Kansas (5), Texas (10), Kansas State (8), Texas Tech (11), and TCU (12). His 13 tackles vs. WVU also marked a career-high and tied for the most of any player in an OSU game on the year. The 13 tackles vs. WVU also tied for the third-most of any Big 12 player in a game for the season. He had at least three tackles in every game and at least five tackles in seven games. He also added 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries on the year, getting sacks vs. WVU and UT and a half-sack at KSU.
Amen had a career day at TCU, forcing three fumbles to set an OSU record, tie a Big 12 record and finish one short of matching the NCAA record for forced fumbles in a game. Recovered two of his forced fumbles in the fourth quarter, and a teammate recovered his other forced fumble late in the third quarter to give him three forced turnovers in the final 18:30 of a one-possession game. He also finished as the game’s leader in total tackles (12) and solo tackles (9) on his way to earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for the performance, as well as the Pro Football Focus National College Defensive MVP of the Week. He finished as the seventh leading tackler in the Big 12 with an average of 7.4 per game. His three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries were tied for the Big 12 lead in 2020, and his two fumble recoveries tied for No. 12 in the FBS.
Senior/Receiver – Brampton, ON/Tennessee
Palmer proved to be the top receiver on the Volunteers and one of the best in the SEC. Led the Vols in receiving yards (475), catches (33) and receiving touchdowns (4). Twenty-three of his 33 catches went for first downs, while 62 yards came after the catch. Ranked 13th in the SEC in 20+ yard catches (9). Was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
He was UT’s leading receiver in the season-opening win at South Carolina (9/26), tying a career-high with six catches for 85 yards and scoring the game-winning touchdown with a 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
He collected 71 yards on four receptions, including a 33-yard grab against Missouri (10/3).
He delivered the first multi-touchdown game of his career at No. 3 Georgia (10/10), finishing with four catches for 71 yards. Both TD grabs came in the second quarter, including a 36-yarder from Jarrett Guarantano that tied the game at 14. He added another on the ensuing possession, a 27-yarder that gave the Vols the lead in Athens.
He logged four catches for 57 yards and one touchdown against No. 2 Alabama (10/24), including a 27-yard score in the third quarter. Tallied 53 yards receiving on four catches in win at Vanderbilt (12/12), and a week later, against Texas A&M, finished with three receptions for 55 yards.
ABOUT FOOTBALL CANADA: Established in 1880 and reconstituted in 1884, Football Canada is the national governing body of amateur football in Canada and a proud member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). Working closely with the provincial football associations, we develop programs and resources for players, coaches, officials in the three disciplines of Tackle, Flag and Touch Football. Football Canada’s vision statement is “from playground to stadium” where players can participate in the game of football throughout a lifetime recreationally, competitively and internationally.
ABOUT THE CORNISH TROPHY: The Jon Cornish Trophy is awarded annually to the Canadian student-athlete who has been the most outstanding player in NCAA Football. It is awarded by voters consisting of Canadian journalists, player personnel evaluators from the Canadian Football League, former NCAA players connected to Canada and the panellists from the TSN Krown Gridiron Nation TV programs. The award is named after Jon Cornish, a former high school football player from British Columbia who was a college standout running back at the University of Kansas. Cornish later went on to win three Most Outstanding Canadian awards and a 2013 Most Outstanding Player award in the CFL as a member of the Calgary Stampeders. His 2013 season was capped off with winning the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete. The award has been presented since 2017. The trophy is presented at and in conjunction with the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario, on an annual basis and is on permanent display there.
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President, Football Canada