John Rush named winner of OUA’s President’s Trophy

The OUA’s major awards were announced today and Gryphon linebacker John Rush was a recipient of one of them. Rush was named winner of the OUA’s Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the conference’s Stand-up Defensive Player of the Year. This is Rush’s second honour in as many days. He was named a First-team OUA All Star.

The 2015 OUA FOOTBALL MAJOR AWARD WINNERS:

Most Valuable Player – Will Finch – Western
Presidents’ Trophy (Outstanding Stand-up Defensive Player) – John Rush – Guelph
J.P. Metras Trophy (Lineman of the Year) – Kwaku Boateng – Laurier
Norm Marshall Trophy (Rookie of the Year) – Jesse Amankwaa – York
Dave ‘Tuffy’ Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall – Western
Russ Jackson Nominee – Curtis Carmichael – Queen’s
Volunteer Coach of the Year – Tom Norwell – York
Officials Award of Merit – Kevin Horton

Links to stories:

OUA.ca: 2015 OUA FOOTBALL MAJOR AWARD WINNERS

Gryphons.ca: John Rush Named President’s Trophy Winner as Defensive Player of the Year in the OUA

John Rush first burst onto the scene at U of G as a highly touted prospect out of the Niagara region. After impressing in his rookie year of 2011 as a 17-year-old, Rush went on to be named an OUA Second Team All-Star in his second year after starting 7 games at middle linebacker while recording 41 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. In his third year at Guelph, Rush would have his 2013 season cut short after blowing out his knee in practice. Rush was able to return in time for the 2014 season in which he played in all 8 games for the Gryphons, but his fifth and final season with the Gryphons in 2015 has been far and away the best of his career.

Guelph Mercury: John Rush of Gryphons top defensive player in OUA football

There should be no doubt now that middle linebacker John Rush of the Guelph Gryphons is fully recovered from the ACL injury that cost him half of his third season of OUA football in 2013.

“It’s nice to finally kind of get back to how I felt in second and third year,” Rush said after the presentation ceremony. “Last season was tough with coming off the injury. I didn’t really feel 100 per cent, even though sometimes I was saying I was 100 per cent. I was only like 80. It’s nice to finally feel and be back at that 100 per cent.”

All of the stories make mention of the fact that Rush is the first Gryphon to win the Presidents’ Trophy since Mike O’Shea in 1992. The only other Gryphon to win it was Sam Benincasa who won it back-to-back in 1982 & 1983.

My thoughts:

Rush did burst onto the scene as described. He was racking up tackle stats from Day 1, including 32 his freshman season when he only started one game. Rush was 17 that year. Rush then played middle linebacker and served as a captain for Team Canada teams that beat the USA in the 2012 International Bowl and the 2012 IFAF World Junior Championships.

A 2nd team OUA all star in his second year, Rush was leading the CIS in tackles and playing like a potential All Canadian before his knee injury in his third year. Year 4, he had a solid but unspectacular season returning from knee surgery. It is very nice to see it all come together for him in his final season. I know it’s not about individual awards for Rush. I put a lot of faith into the leadership this team gets from Rush and other veteran players who do not want to end this season with a loss. I’m pretty sure Rush says that in Go Beyond S1E1.

Rush’s injury obviously came at a bad time. He wasn’t at 100% in 2014, the season leading into his draft year. I really think that what he has done this season should get him a second look from CFL teams. I won’t be at all surprised if he is signed as a free agent and goes to a CFL training camp in 2016.

“This is a culmination of five years of hard work here and it really exemplifies how good our defence is here,” he said. “The other 11 guys on the field are so good that offences can’t just account for me. They have to account for everybody on the field and that allows me to make a tackle or two here and there. It’s not that I’m that much more astounding than the rest of our defence, it’s just that the offences can’t account for one player, they have to account for all 12 on the field.”

 

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