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Mustangs quarterback named Canadian university football’s best player

Western University Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant throws a pass during first-quarter action of the Vanier Cup final against Laval University Rouge et Or on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Quebec City.
Western University Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant throws a pass during first-quarter action of the Vanier Cup final against Laval University Rouge et Or on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Western Mustangs quarterback Chris Merchant is capping off his collegiate career with the ultimate individual honour.

The fifth-year quarterback won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the top Canadian university football player at the USports awards banquet in Quebec City.

The Calgary native threw for 2,378 yards and 14 touchdowns and ran for 438 yards and six TDs in leading the Mustangs to their third straight undefeated Ontario University Athletics regular season this year.

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“His work ethic and competitive spirit has been an inspiration to our team. His record as our starting quarterback is an incredible 39-3. He is truly deserving of this award and will go down as one of the best student-athletes to ever play at Western,” Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall said in a team statement.

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Merchant quarterbacked the Mustangs to a 2017 Vanier Cup championship and two consecutive Ontario conference titles over four years at Western. He is the sixth Mustang to receive the honour, following in the footsteps of Marshall, who won the award in 1980.

Marshall was also honoured this week, receiving the Tindall Trophy as the country’s top coach, winning the award for the second straight season and the third time in his career.

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Merchant was also named a first-team All-Canadian along with Mustangs cornerback Bleska Kambamba, of London, and punter and kicker Marc Liegghio.

Another Londoner, offensive tackle Zack Fry, was named to the second All-Canadian team along with receiver Brett Ellerman.

The Mustangs fell short of another appearance in the Vanier Cup after losing to McMaster 29-15 in the Yates Cup final on Nov. 9 at TD Stadium.