Receiver John Metchie III, who helped the Alabama Crimson Tide post an unbeaten season en route to an NCAA championship, was named the winner of the Jon Cornish Trophy on Monday.
The honour goes to the top Canadian performer in the NCAA football ranks. It’s named after Cornish, a native of New Westminster, B.C., who played collegiately at Kansas before embarking on a Hall of Fame career as a running back with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders (2007-15).
Metchie, from Brampton, Ont., received 94 points in voting conducted by pro scouts and media cross Canada. He finished three points ahead of Calgary’s Amen Ogbongbemiga, a linebacker who completed his senior season at Oklahoma State University.
Ogbongbemiga registered nine first-place votes, one more than Metchie.
Tennessee receiver Josh Palmer of Brampton, Ont., was third with 66 points. The remaining three finalists, in order of finish, included West Virginia safety Alonzo Addae (Pickering, Ont.), Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (Sherwood Park, Alta.) and Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson (Windsor, Ont.).
Metchie said the closeness of the vote is a testament to the impact Canadians made on the NCAA this season.
“I think it says Canadians are now active on the scene,” he said. “It says a lot for kids growing up in the country knowing there are more and more kids doing it.
“I think it’s a great message that we’re sending.”
The six-foot 190-pound Metchie was Alabama’s second-leading receiver with 55 catches for 916 yards and six TDs this season as a sophomore. He capped his campaign with eight catches for 81 yards in the Tide’s 52-24 win over Ohio State in the U.S. college football championship game on Jan. 11.
But Metchie drew national attention for his physical prowess in Alabama’s 52-46 SEC win over Florida in December. The Canadian receiver levelled Florida safety Trey Dean II on an interception return in the first quarter resulting in a fumble recovered by Tide receiver DeVonta Smith.
Smith made a 31-yard TD catch on the next play. Metchie finished that game with four catches for 62 yards.
Metchie was born in Taiwan, moved to Ghana at a young age and grew up in Brampton, Ont. He headed to the U.S. to attend high school.
His older brother, Royce, is a defensive back with the Stampeders.
“I have three older brothers and they mean the world to me,” Metchie said. “They’re the biggest role models in my life.
“We [Metchie and his brother, Royce] are extremely close, kind of like if I had a twin brother, that’s kind of like how it feels. It definitely means a lot to me and all three mean the world to me.”