Roughriders linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. has been cleaning up on the field this year, setting a new team record for tackles in a single season.
On Thursday, the CFL announced team nominees for the league’s most outstanding player awards as voted upon by the Football Reporters of Canada and the league’s head coaches.
Not surprisingly, Knox is the Riders’ nominee for Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player and Most Outstanding Rookie. Getting all three nominations is just another first for Knox in Rider history.
“Well, alright, I didn’t know that. It feels great. I’m blessed to be in this position.” said Knox.
With one week to go in the season, Knox holds a team record of taking down the opposition 107 times. That number will likely grow against the Alouettes, officially setting the new mark that future defenders will be chasing. If Knox manages to register nine or more tackles against Montreal, he’ll set a new CFL single-season rookie record for tackles as well.
As good as Knox has been for the Riders this year, it hasn’t been an easy road for the 23-year-old. He’s made team history even though he didn’t make the team’s opening day roster.
“He worked his way up from (being the designated international) and just showed and continued to get better as the year went on,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“He’s one of the most-consistent players we had and he played at a high level all year.”
Before the season began, Knox only had one goal in mind: to make the team. If he didn’t make it, he probably would have been out of football and working in the military instead.
“I was hoping to go out for the NFL, I didn’t get that call. When the Roughriders gave me that chance, I ran with it,” said Knox. “That was my next objective, go to the army. My mom couldn’t have me staying at the house. I’m too old now – 23 years old – I can’t be living with mom. I’m just happy I’m not in the army.”
His biological mother and foster mother are both important figures that have helped Knox get to where he is today.
“Ms. Brenda McGregor and my mom Yvette, those are two people that have my back about everything from my image to tying my shoes. I love them for that.”
With the off-season around the corner, Knox now hopes to either find a job or go back to school and complete a master’s degree in business.
PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF FOR BAGG
Rob Bagg has a chance to take home some hardware as well.
Bagg is the team’s nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian. Bagg leads the team in touchdowns this season with seven, including three rushing and four receiving. Seven touchdowns in a season is also a new career high for Bagg.
Considering everything Bagg has been through in his career, it’s a moment that shows sticking with his career his paying off.
“I think hard work generally pays off. I’ve tried to put in the hard work, regardless of the circumstances,” he said. “Sometimes good things happen when you work hard.”
Offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte and Dylan Ainsworth on special teams are the other Rider nominees for the awards that will be handed out Grey Cup week in Winnipeg.