BOMBSHELLS: Re-born Collaros eyes first MOP Award

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While linebacker Adam Bighill should be favoured to win one of the CFL’s individual awards at Grey Cup week, he’s not the only one.


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Quarterback Zach Collaros will be a strong contender for his first Most Outstanding Player Award.

Even if it wasn’t a slam dunk he got the nod on his own team, given its historically good defence.

“There’s a whole handful of guys that are very deserving,” head coach Mike O’Shea said Wednesday. “Zach’s had an unbelievable season for us. He’s been fantastic for our team. He’s very deserving.”

Collaros led the CFL with 20 touchdown passes going into the week, ranked second with 3,112 passing yards, and had completed a league-best 70.2% of his passes.

His passer efficiency rating of 111.6 is also No. 1.

But as O’Shea likes to say, the quarterback is mostly in charge of winning, and that’s where Collaros has shone brightest: The Blue Bombers are 11-1 this season when he has played, and are 15-1 since he joined the team for its 2019 Grey Cup run.


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“I thought we would win a lot of games if I was given the opportunity to play,” he said. “And it’s been great so far.”

Fresh off the birth of his second child on Monday night, Collaros was, in a sense, reborn with the late 2019 trade from Toronto.

He had been discarded previously in both Saskatchewan and Hamilton, tossed on the scrap heap after suffering injuries, including a concussion that cost him most of the 2019 season.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume he drew some extra satisfaction from his award nomination in the wake of all that.

While he wouldn’t dive into that pile, Collaros did acknowledge that after being the Tiger-Cats’ MOP candidate twice earlier in his career, this third time is more of a charm.

“Yeah, as you get older you understand how important these things are and they don’t happen every season,” the 33-year-old said. “On a team with so many great players who have had great seasons, to be recognized this way is cool. It’s awesome.”


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Collaros rattled off the names of nearly a dozen teammates he felt were also deserving, spreading the praise like he spreads the ball, including his coaches and the “higher-ups” who put him in this position.

“Any individual award is usually indicative of team success,” he said. “It just so happens in football the quarterback gets a lot of the credit when things go well.”


Nic Demski has spent the last few years playing in the shadow of fellow Winnipegger Andrew Harris.

With Harris missing half of the team’s games to injury, Demski received his long-awaited day in the spotlight as Winnipeg’s nominee for top Canadian.

“This is definitely one of the awards you have your eyes on, being a Canadian player when you first get into this league,” Demski, 27, said. “It feels great… but there’s many teammates back in that locker-room that deserve this award, as well.”


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The sixth-year CFLer ranks second on the Bombers with a career-high 637 yards on 44 catches, with four touchdowns. He also has carried the ball 11 times for 70 yards and another major.

“I definitely had some expectations coming in. Given to me, and set for myself,” Demski said. “I feel like there’s still a lot more that I can give. But I’m just happy all this hard work’s starting to pay off.”

Demski was one of four unanimous selections in the first round of MOP voting, by football reporters and O’Shea.

The others were Stanley Bryant as top offensive lineman, DeAundre Alford as top rookie, and Mike Miller as best special-teams player.


Bryant, who could become the first player in league history to win the top O-lineman award for a third time, says after a slow start following the lost 2020 season, he’s back to his old self, even at age 35.


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“As each week went by, I got better and better and got back to myself. I was back rolling,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of defences, a lot of defensive players come into this league. That’s an advantage for me, just the knowledge of the game. But as far as athleticism, I think I still have it like I’m 29, 28, even 21.”

Bryant just missed out on a third consecutive MOP award in 2019.

Now he’s got another shot.

“That would be pretty cool if things could work out that way.”


Alford came straight out of nowhere, also known as Tusculum University in Tennessee, to emerge from a pack of 27 defensive backs in training camp as the Bombers’ top rookie.

“A lot of hard work and just believing in myself, proving others wrong,” Alford said. “And just letting everyone know that no matter where you come from, what college you go to, it’s all about the work that you put into your craft. You’ll be successful.

“It’s very surreal. I just feel like I’m the chosen one from where I come from.”

Alford entered the final week of the regular season tied for third in CFL interceptions, with four.


It’s the second straight special-teams nod for Miller, who leads the league in tackles with 23 and this season became the all-time leader, with 208.

“We’ve got such a good team, there’s a lot of guys that could have been just as deserving as me on special teams,” the 10-year veteran (four with the Bombers) said. “But I’m definitely honoured.”

Twitter: @friesensunmedia


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