As we near the halfway point in the Canadian football season the hype just seems to be building south of the border with NFL training camps, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to shine a light on the best and brightest Canadian ballers this season. Of course we all already know the Andrew Harris’ and the Rene Parades’ of the world, so to keep this list manageable for us all on this Wednesday evening, here are the three breakout Canadians this season.
3. Kian Schaffer-Baker, WR, Saskatchewan Roughriders
The only thing more on point than Kian Schaffer-Baker’s play this season has been his hair. Saskatchewan’s former fourth round pick announced his presence last season but has been all over the highlight reels this season. Through eight games this year, Schaffer-Baker has racked up 401 yards and three touchdowns which is just 162 yards shy of his total last year, and he’s already eclipsed last season’s touchdown total by one. Saskatchewan has struggled with quarterback this season but the Mississauga native’s presence out wide has been as reliable as a sellout crowd in Regina.
2. Kurleigh Gittens Jr, WR, Toronto Argonauts
Does he have one of the best names in the CFL? Yes. Is he one of the best wide receivers this season? Also yes. While Gittens Jr did have an impressive 2021 (50 receptions for 605 yards and four touchdowns) his 2022 is shaking up to be even more of a statement. Not only has he already hauled in the rock 31 times through six games, but he has allowed the rest of the Argos’ stars to shine. The way opposing defenses now need to plan to face not only Brandon Banks and Andrew Harris, but also this new kid from Ottawa is no easy task and Eastern Conference leading Toronto are reaping the rewards (I know the East is bad so this doesn’t say as much as it should but anyways). The third year player out of Wilfrid-Laurier is on pace to obliterate his season highs and is shaping up to be a safe bet to win Most Outstanding Canadian at some point over his career.
1. Nathan Rourke, QB, BC Lions
We all knew this kid would top this list, right? Nathan Rourke took BC’s starting job and put the league on notice; leading the Lions to their thunderous 59-15 win over the Elks. Some may have chalked the beating up to rookie luck or Edmonton’s ineptitude, but the Victoria native has remained a passer teams have to plan for. Rourke sits second in the CFL in overall QB ranking while having played two less games than the leading Zach Collaros. BC’s hometown boy boasts a jaw dropping 79.3 completion percentage, which has him nearly nine full points ahead of Collaros and nearly 15 points ahead of the other most feared veteran QB, Bo Levi Mitchell. There’s no telling how high Rourke’s ceiling is but it’s definitely somewhere way up in the clouds.