Picton wins Hec Crighton Trophy as U Sports football awards announced

Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton poses with the Hec Crighton Trophy. (Tara Walton/CP)

HAMILTON — Head coach Steve Bryce told his Regina Rams quarterback shortly after he was hired in March to get his Hec Crighton Trophy speech ready.

Noah Picton didn’t take his coach seriously.

Fast forward to Thursday night and Picton was named the most outstanding player in Canadian university football.

"At that time, I was like, humming and hawing … that’s nice of you to say but I was thinking it was just a new head coach trying to get into the good books of his quarterback," Picton said.

Bryce says that his remarks to Picton were more focused on academics and an attempt get the QB to study harder with the hopes of him being an academic all-Canadian.

"I was telling Noah, ‘You have the potential to go up there and be one of those candidates this year, do you want to talk to the world about your academics too? Is that something you’re going to be proud of?"’ Bryce said.

"I said, ‘You better get that speech ready and you better get your academics ready for that, too."’

The 21-year-old Picton set a U Sports record this season with 3,186 passing yards in eight league games en route to becoming the 50th recipient of the award. His passing yards mark surpassed the previous national standard of 3,162 set by former Calgary Dinos QB and current Calgary Stampeder Andrew Buckley. Picton also led the country in touchdowns with 25.

The motivation from Bryce worked as both Picton and the Rams turned around a program that was 0-8 in 2015 to become a 6-2 team that finished first in the Canada West standings this year. Regina made it as far as the conference semifinals before falling to the UBC Thunderbirds.

Picton’s honour was one of several on the evening for U Sports football athletes, who were recognized at the Hamilton Convention Centre as part of Vanier Cup weekend. The Laval Rouge et Or take on the Calgary Dinos for the national championship Saturday afternoon at Tim Hortons Field.

Picton beat out a trio of quarterbacks for the Hec Crighton Trophy: St. Francis Xavier’s Tivon Cook, Montreal’s Samuel Caron and Ottawa’s Derek Wendel.

Manitoba linebacker DJ Lalama was named top defensive player, Laval defensive end Mathieu Betts earned most outstanding down lineman honours, Mount Allison quarterback Jakob Loucks was top rookie, Manitoba defensive back Cam Teschuk claimed the Russ Jackson Award for excellence in football, academics and citizenship and Wilfrid Laurier’s Michael Faulds was named head coach of the year.

Picton, who’s in his third year of eligibility, says his next goal is to help the Rams capture a Vanier Cup, something that he feels his team is just a few good workouts away from.

The Regina native worked out with his hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015 as part of the Canadian quarterback development program where he learned a lot from offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine, the now interim head coach of the Montreal Alouettes. As for reaching the Canadian Football League, Picton understands his limitations.

"The CFL, they may not necessarily want a Canadian quarterback and, to add to that, they may not want a Canadian quarterback who’s five-foot-nine, 175 pounds," Picton said.

Bryce says that all it takes for his young quarterback to reach the next level is someone to take a chance on him. He also sees some similarities between Picton and a Canadian Football Hall of Famer.

"Doug Flutie wasn’t given the chance either in the NFL," Bryce said. "He came up to the CFL and cut his teeth and then proved himself and had an amazing career. And everyone said the same thing about him that they would about Noah, that he’s too short.

"I think if (Picton) goes out and he has an amazing East-West game and if he just tears it up, he’s going to spark some interest for somebody to take a chance."

The 2016 U Sports Football All-Canadian teams were also announced as follows:

First Team Offence:

QB Noah Picton, Regina
RB Tyler Chow, Saskatchewan
RB Alex Taylor, Western
IR Kaion Julien-Grant, StFX
IR Mitchell Picton, Regina
WR Louis-Mathieu Normandin, Montreal
WR Nate Behar, Carleton
C Matthew Van Praet, Western
G Geoff Gray, Manitoba
G Zach Intzandt, McMaster
T Vernon Sainvil, StFX
T Jean-Simon Roy, Laval

First Team Defence

DT Rupert Butcher, Western
DT Vincent Desjardins, Laval
DE Mathieu Betts, Laval
DE Michael Kashak, McMaster
LB DeAndre Smith, Saint Mary’s
LB DJ Lalama, Manitoba
LB Nakas Onyeka, Laurier
FS Stavros Katsantonis, UBC
HB Malcolm Thompson, Laurier
HB Malcolm Brown, Western
CB Godfrey Onyeka, Laurier
CB Samuel Polan, Sherbrooke

First Team Special Teams:

P Félix Ménard-Brière, Montreal
K Sean Stenger, Saskatchewan
RET Tunde Adeleke, Carleton


Second Team Offence:

QB Derek Wendel, Ottawa
RB Jordan Socholotiuk, StFX
RB Jayde Rowe, Carleton
IR Austen Hartley, Calgary
IR Mitchell Baines, Ottawa
WR Dejuan Martin, StFX
WR Danny Vandervoort, McMaster
C Levi Hua, UBC
G Samuel Lefebvre, Laval
G Ryan Sceviour, Calgary
T Evan Johnson, Saskatchewan
T Sean Jamieson, Western

Second Team Defence:

DT Donovan Dale, Saskatchewan
DT Junior Luke, Montreal
DE Kwaku Boateng, Laurier
DE Jonathan Boissonneault-Glaou, Montreal
LB Frédéric Chagnon, Montreal
LB Jean-Gabriel Poulin, Western
LB Alexandre Gagné, Sherbrooke
FS Brandon Jennings, Acadia
HB Robert Woodson, Calgary
HB Adam Auclair, Laval
CB Adam Laurensse, Calgary
CB Robbie Yochim, McMaster

Second Team Special Teams:

P TJ Morton, Toronto
K Adam Preocanin, McMaster
RET Marcus Davis, UBC

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.