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Nate Holley wins Most Outstanding Rookie

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie addresses the media during the State of the League news conference during the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary on Friday, November 22, 2019 i. Al Charest/Postmedia
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie addresses the media during the State of the League news conference during the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary on Friday, November 22, 2019 i. Al Charest/Postmedia

Nate Holley can cross another item off the list of goals that hangs above his bedroom door.

On Thursday evening, the Calgary Stampeders’ Most Outstanding Rookie was named the CFL’S Most Outstanding Rookie.

When Holley arrived in Calgary, he made a list of goals and objectives and taped it above his door to make sure he could see it every day and remind himself of what he wanted to accomplish.

He was never anything other than ambitious, and the Most Outstanding Rookie Award was right at the top of his list.

“There’s a few on the paper, I had a list of 10 and I’d say there’s three or four left,” Holley said. “There’s goals to work on in the future, goals to go get after. Now, work on go get Defensive Player of the Year, that’s definitely on the list. If I’m back here this season or next season, hopefully, that’s something I can check off the list.”

Right from the very start of the season, Holley was among the best special teams tacklers in the league. Head coach Dave Dickenson has spoken about how teams would double or triple-team him but Holley will still manage to find a way to burst through and take down returners.

Holley almost certainly would have led the CFL in special teams tackles, but an injury to linebacker Cory Greenwood in September forced the rookie into full-time duties on defence.

He wound up with 78 defensive tackles and 22 special teams tackles, for a nice round 100 total.

The question now is whether Holley will be back in 2020.

He is rumoured to be attracting serious NFL attention and will likely test out the waters in the newly-reinstated window for CFL players to explore their opportunities down south.

“We’ll see in this next month, we’ll see what happens,” Holley said. “Life is probably going to get pretty exciting here, I’ll figure it out. I don’t really know what’s going to happen as of now, I think a lot of teams don’t really contact guys until after the Grey Cup so there’s a lot of rumour about it. Right now it’s just rumour.

“We’ll see what happens in the off-season.”

HUFNAGEL HONOURED

Stampeders president/GM John Hufnagel was honoured for the work he’s done as one of the most successful executives in CFL on Thursday night when he received the Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award.

The award recognizes “an individual who has demonstrated great leadership and made significant contributions to the league.”
It’s not hard to see why Hufnagel was the ideal candidate.

After a 12-year playing career as a quarterback that began in 1976, Hufnagel became the offensive coordinator for the Stampeders from 1990-’96.

He returned to the organization in 2007 and helped lead the Stampeders to a dominant run that’s seen them make six Grey Cup appearances in 12 years, including three championship wins. Three of those appearances came after he stepped back from head coaching duties in 2016.

After receiving the awards, Hufnagel shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a good leader.

“I’m not going to say that I know that formula or that recipe but I will say, I have three tenants that I strongly believe in and that’s integrity, honesty and loyalty,” Hufnagel said.

FOLAN GETS FIRST AWARD

The Stampeders’ longtime director of video operations, Ross Folan, became the first recipient of the Jane Mawby Tribute Award on Thursday.

The new award is named in honour of the late Jane Mayby, who spent 28 years working behind the scenes for the Stamps. It will be awarded annually to a highly-valued but often ‘unsung’ current employee of a CFL club.

Folan certainly fits the bill.

“I’m very honoured, this is a great honour and for the league to put some light on the people who work in the background is awesome,” Folan said. “(I knew Jane) very well, since I was basically a kid and a very good friend.
“It’s very special to even be nominated and to be named after Jane is incredible.

MAVER GETS ONE, TOO

Stampeders punter Rob Maver was recognized his peers on Thursday evening when he was named as the recipient of the Tom Pate Memorial Award.

The award has been presented every year since 1976 and is selected by the CFL Players’ Association in “recognition of his sportsmanship and contributions to one’s team, community and the CFLPA.”

For the past two seasons, Maver has received the Herm Harrison Memorial Award, which goes to a Stampeders player who has outstanding involvement in community service.

He is the co-chair of the annual Rob Maver Guts N Glory flag football tournament, which has raised over $100,000 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

daustin@postmedia.com

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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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