October 18, 2017

Hogan: Outstanding rookie selection no easy task

Martese Jackson (30) and William Campbell (69) of the Toronto Argonauts during the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at BMO Field in Toronto, ON, Saturday October 7, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

 As the regular season draws to a conclusion it’s time examine the Argos nominees for individual awards. Let’s start with a look at the Most Outstanding Rookie contenders.

For clarification, people eligible for this award have not dressed for a game in either the CFL or NFL before this season. The last member of the Double Blue to win the award at the league level was Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell back in 1997.

Here are the players who can be considered serious contenders for the Argos team award. 

William Campbell

The Argos left offensive tackle kicked around the NFL for four seasons without ever getting on the field. The Argos are thrilled the former Michigan Wolverine eventually brought his talent north. At 6’5”, 308 pounds, Campbell is an imposing figure on the line. He’s also brought some serious game to the CFL. He took over the job in Week Five and hasn’t looked back, giving the Argos stellar play at the all-important left tackle position. O-linemen fly under the radar more often than not, but Campbell has been solid since earning the starting spot.

Alden Darby

After bouncing around four NFL teams in just three years, the former Arizona State star joined the Argos in mid-July, working his way into the lineup in late August. He’s been outstanding since. Darby has manned the tough boundary cornerback position and played exceptionally well. Recording 13 tackles in his five starts shows opponents are not completing passes to his side at a high rate. He also showed his play-making ability when he intercepted a Darian Durant pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. What could hurt him with voters is that he likely hasn’t been in the starting lineup long enough.


Martese Jackson

Arguably the fastest and most explosive player on the Argos, Jackson made his initial CFL impact Week Four in Winnipeg. It was a game few fans will forget, especially a woman from Manitoba named Karen who could have won one million dollars. In that game Jackson returned a punt 74 yards for a TD and also had a kick-off return for a TD nullified by penalty, making for an unhappy contest qualifier. He ended up with 339 return yards that night, one of the best nights in CFL history. Jackson has three return TDs and an offensive touchdown, and he’s become more and more a part of the offence as the season has progressed.

James Wilder Jr.

If he has started the season at running back this category would likely be a slam dunk. Wilder had played in every game this season up until last week’s game in Edmonton. He bided his time by playing special teams and backing up Brandon Whitaker. Early on, Wilder’s busiest game was Week Six in Regina when he had 11 carries for a pedestrian 35 yards. Then he started against the Eskimos in mid-September and exploded. He rushed for 190 yards that day, followed by a 141-yard performance the next week. He added 144-receiving yards in those two games. He’s added an explosive element to the Toronto offence, but did he play enough to deserve Most Outstanding Rookie recognition? That’s the question the Toronto chapter of the Football Reporters of Canada have to decide.

Dylan Wynn

A 283-pound bundle of energy at the defensive tackle spot. Wynn attacks the position and has solidified a front four that has suffered more than its fair share of injuries. The Oregon State product has been in the lineup since the fourth game of the season and shows no signs of playing his way out of it. He’s recorded six sacks to date and in a game at Montreal recorded seven tackles, a ridiculously high number for a DT. Wynn moves exceptionally well for a man his size and has become a key contributor on special teams.

There have been seasons when it’s been tough to find one M.O.R. candidate, let alone five. This bumper crop of first-year players has been a key reason why the Argos have clinched a playoff spot.