The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced their team awards on Wednesday and it’s certainly no surprise starting quarterback Zach Collaros is the winner of their Most Outstanding Player Award.
As the league’s second leading passer, Collaros was the clear-cut choice after helping the Bombers to a CFL best 11-2 record.
Collaros was voted his team’s most valuable player for the third time in his career, but first in six years after winning twice with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2014 and 2015.
After sitting out last week’s game Collaros is now second in the CFL in passing with 3,112 yards. He leads the league with 20 TD passes to go along with only six interceptions, which is tied for the lowest among the CFL’s starting quarterbacks.
Now at the age off 33, Collaros has a better appreciation for the honour.
“I think as you get older, you understand how important these things are,” said Collaros. “They don’t happen every season and especially being on a team with guys like Adam Bighill, and Willie Jefferson, and Jackson Jeffcoat, and Brandon Alexander.
“I could just name everybody, but on a team with so many great players who have had great seasons, to be recognized this way is cool. It’s awesome.”
Collaros is now 15-1 as a starter since joining the blue and gold late in the 2019 season.
“There’s a whole handful of guys that are very deserving,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “I do think that if you look at the season overall, Zach’s had an unbelievable season for us. He’s been fantastic for our team. I think he’s very deserving.”
Linebacker Adam Bighill is once again the team’s most outstanding defensive player in what had to be a very close vote with Jefferson, Jeffcoat and Alexander also having monster seasons.
Bighill has 66 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown while playing all 13 games so far in 2021.
“I do feel like this is the healthiest, and best I’ve ever been in my career this year,” said Bighill. “No doubt about it.”
It’s the sixth time he’s been chosen as his team’s top defensive player and second with the Bombers, also garnering the award in 2018. But with the amount of talent on this year’s squad, it makes it even more special.
“Probably means more than it’s ever meant getting the nomination for me,” Bighill said. “Just the amount of guys we have in this locker room that really are candidates. So, it’s very humbling, and it’s a great feeling to have that nomination.
“Of all the nominations in my career, probably means the most.”
He’s already one of just eight players to win the CFL award as most outstanding defensive player multiple times, and a third award would put him in some elite company.
The other four team awards were all unanimous selections. Receiver Nic Demski won their Most Outstanding Canadian Award. It’s the first team award for the Winnipegger in his sixth CFL season.
Stanley Bryant is the team’s most outstanding offensive lineman for the fourth consecutive season. Like Bighill, he’s already won the CFL award for top lineman twice before, and he was also the CFL runner-up last season in 2019.
Fullback Mike Miller is once again the winner of their Most Outstanding Special Teams Player Award. Earlier this season Miller became the league’s all-time leader in special teams tackles. He was the West Division nominee for the award in 2019.
And defensive back DeAundre Alford is their rookie of the year. Alford is second in the CFL in interceptions with four and will be a strong candidate for the CFL award when the winners get announced.
The division nominees for the Most Outstanding Player Awards will be announced on Wednesday, with the winners to be crowned during Grey Cup week.