Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Chris Matthews is the toast of the town today as the 23-year-old has been named the CFL East Division's Most Outstanding Rookie.
Matthews, who led the Bombers in receiving, is up against B.C. Lions' defensive lineman Jabar Westerman for the league's most outstanding rookie award which will be presented during Grey Cup week in Toronto.
"It means a lot. There's a lot of good players in the CFL and for me to be up for rookie-of-the-year is a real honour," said Matthews, in a telephone interview from his home in California. "I was surprised when I heard this morning. I was optimistic but I wasn't expecting anything."
He said he'll be in Toronto on Nov. 22 for the 2012 Gibson's Finest CFL Player Awards.
"This means a lot to me personally, but anything that brings a positive light to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is a good thing," the 6-foot-5, 229-pound Matthews said. "It was a tough season for us but I think we finished it off strong. We really jelled together and we ended up in the top five offences."
Matthews started all 18 games for the Bombers at wide receiver. He led the team with 81 catches for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns.
He was sixth overall in the CFL in receiving yards and his 14.7 yards per catch was the fourth best among receivers who caught over 60 passes.
Westerman, a Brampton, Ont., native taken second overall by B.C. in the 2012 CFL Canadian College draft, played in all 18 B.C. games. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Westerman recorded 14 defensive tackles and four sacks.
Matthews is the first Blue Bomber to represent the East Division for this award since defensive back Jonathan Hefney in 2009. The last Bomber to take home the top prize was defensive end Gavin Walls in 2005.
The East and West Player Award winners were selected by 70 voters, including members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and CFL head coaches.
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