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23 November
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Matt Nichols named Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Most Outstanding Player

WINNIPEG —; For helping turn around the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ fortunes, quarterback Matt Nichols was voted the club’s Most Outstanding Player.

With the Bombers seemingly headed to another season without a playoff berth, Nichols replaced Drew Willy as the starter with the club holding a 1-4 record. Nichols sparked a streak of seven straight victories, helping the team clinch their first playoff berth since 2011.

ChangSha Night Net

“It’s a pretty awesome honour to get.” said Nichols. “It’s been a long road for me, and it’s a pretty cool thing to hear.”

Nichols started 12 games so far in the 2016 season, posting a 9-3 record while passing for 3,367 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for six TD’s.

“The way he took care of the football, the way he’s led.” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “It’s been a fun ride.”

Linebacker Maurice Leggett was an easy choice for the Bombers’ Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Leggett was a unanimous selection after leading the league with seven interceptions, returning three of them for touchdowns. He also has 48 defensive tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He was also the Bombers’ top defensive player nominee in 2014.

“I just found out stretching, so it feels good.” said Leggett. “Put a smile on my face.”

Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris is the team’s Most Outstanding Canadian. It’s the third time he’s earned the nod as a team’s top Canadian after winning the award twice previously with the B.C. Lions. Harris is second in the league in rushing with 914 yards. He also has 549 yards receiving and scored five touchdowns.

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Travis Bond is the club’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. The six-foot-seven, 355 pound rookie guard didn’t even get in the lineup until week six but kept his starters job by helping the Bombers allowing just 33 sacks this season.

Kicker Justin Medlock was a unanimous choice for the special teams award. The CFL’s most accurate kicker of all-time set several team records in his first season in the blue and gold. He’s made 56 of his 64 field goal attempts and with one game remaining is just three field goals away from Dave Ridgway’s single season CFL record of 59. His 212 points in the 2016 campaign is also just one point shy of Troy Westwood’s club record of 213 points in a season. And he has to be considered the front runner to get the West Division nomination.

“We’ll see. You never know how it goes.” said Medlock. “Sometimes they like the returners. It’s been a good year for kickers.”

Safety Taylor Loffler was named their Most Outstanding Rookie. He recorded 52 defensive tackles, four interceptions and one sack. He took over the starting duties in week six and never relinquished the job.

“If some injuries didn’t happen I might not have been on the field.” Loffler said. “Just to get the experience and be able to run with it, it’s great.”

B.C. Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings, Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly, Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Naaman Roosevelt, Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Andy Fantuz, Toronto Argonauts running back Brandon Whitaker, Ottawa RedBlacks receiver Ernest Jackson and Montreal Alouettes linebacker Bear Woods all received the most valuable player awards for their respective teams.

Former Bombers kicker Lirim Hajrullahu was chosen as the Toronto Argonauts top Canadian as well as their Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Former Bombers centre Justin Sorensen was the Eskimos top lineman.

The voting was conducted by the Football Reporters of Canada and CFL head coaches. The East and West Division winners will be announced on November 12.

 
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