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Calgary Stampeders centre Brett Jones named Most Outstanding Rookie in the CFL

11/21/2013 09:32 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
REGINA - From tuba player to top rookie, Brett Jones has some special memories of Regina's Conexus Centre.

The 22-year-old from Weyburn, Sask., used to come to the Saskatchewan capital for school band trips. On Thursday, the Calgary Stampeder was centre stage again as he became the first centre to win Most Outstanding Rookie honours in the CFL. He is also just the fifth Canadian and first since 2002 to win the award.

It was a close vote. Jones edged Hamilton running back C.J. Gable 26-24 in voting by the Football Reporters of Canada and the league's eight head coaches.

Gable ranked fourth in the league in rushing with 782 yards on 130 carries for a 6.0-yard average. The USC alumnus tied for third in touchdowns with 12 and was eighth in combined yards with 1,622. He caught 55 passes for 600 yards.

Jones, the first winner of the night, wasted little time drawing laughs when he got on stage.

"Just a second, my pants are kind of tight here," said the six-foot-two 319-pounder, as he tried to pull his notes out of his pocket.

The suit was fitted Wednesday with no time for alterations, he explained later.

Jones also told the audience he hoped they had plenty of Gibson's Finest, the whiskey that sponsors the awards, and also managed a plug for Molson.

"Have a great night," he said in leaving.

Jones was a constant in a Stampeders' offensive line that paved the way for Jon Cornish, the league's leading rusher. Calgary led the CFL in rushing and allowed the fewest quarterback sacks.

He started all 18 regular-season games for the 14-4 Stampeders, including 17 at centre and the other at left guard. He also started the West Division final.

"They took a chance on me. I just didn't want to let them down," he said of the Stamps.

He proved to be a heck of an investment for a second-round pick (16th overall) in the 2013 draft.

"It was a lot of hard work." he said of his rookie campaign. "Definitely just trying to do my best each week, just trying to make sure I knew what I was doing out there just so we could have success each week."

His goal coming into the season was just to play.

Jones was one of two natives of Weyburn to win Thursday. Saskatchewan's Brendon LaBatte, also from Weyburn, was named Most Outstanding Offensive LIneman

Jones spent four years at the University of Regina, where he was a finalist for the J.P. Metras Trophy, which honours the top lineman in CIS.

He had hoped to play here Sunday with the Stamps in the Grey Cup. But the Roughriders took care of that by winning the West final.

"It would have been so cool if it would have worked out," he said. "But it didn't so I've got to move on."

His parents, brother and sister attended the awards.

Jones will be back in Regina during the off-season to continue his university studies.

"It's tough to when you miss a semester," he said. "It's tough to register for like semester seven when you don't have semester six but I'm going to try my best."

He is a year-and-a-half or two years from finishing a degree in engineering. His goal is to get the credits he needs to transfer to the University of Calgary to study petroleum engineering with an eye to medical school down the line.

Talking football with Roughrider fans is not on his agenda, however.

"I try to avoid those questions as much as I can," he said with a grin.

Other Canadians to be named rookie of the year are Jason Clermont (2002), Michael O'Shea (1993), Orville Lee (1998) and Joe Poplawski (1978).

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