Grey Cup Game Breakers: 10 names to know for Sunday

CALGARY — The red carpet is about to roll out in Calgary, as a handful of the league’s biggest stars prepare to play in the 107th Grey Cup presented by Shaw.

Winnipeg and Hamilton are both looking to end long Grey Cup droughts, with the Ticats advancing to the final on the strength of a franchise best 15-3 season, and the Bombers coming off back to back road wins over Calgary and Saskatchewan in the playoffs.

The stage couldn’t be bigger, but Sunday’s contest features no shortage of players who are ready to seize the moment, from Ticat-turned-Blue Bomber Zach Collaros to the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player Brandon Banks.

Who are the players you can’t miss on Sunday? CFL.ca breaks it down:

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

1.
BRANDON BANKS
#16 | WR

Brandon Banks was his usual spectacular self in the Eastern Final, recording the first 100-yard game of his post-season career while making the catch of the playoffs, a diving touchdown grab to give the Ticats momentum in the first half. Motivated by memories of the 2014 Grey Cup loss in BC, the league’s most electrifying playmaker is not likely to be silenced on Sunday.

2.
DANE EVANS
#9 | QB

Many had written off the Ticats the moment Jeremiah Masoli suffered a season-ending injury back in the summer. Since then, Dane Evans has emerged as one of the country’s top up-and-coming pivots, guiding the league’s most productive offence while averaging more than 370 passing yards per game since Labour Day. How will the 26-year-old handle the big stage?

3.
JA’GARED DAVIS
#56 | DL

Dylan Wynn also deserves plenty of credit for the Ticats’ defensive resurgence, but Ja’Gared Davis remains one of the most dominant edge rushers in the CFL, ranking second in the league with 13 sacks. A reigning Grey Cup Champion with the Stampeders, Davis draws an intriguing matchup against star Bombers tackle Stanley Bryant.

4.
SIMONI LAWRENCE
#21 | LB

The history between Simoni Lawrence and Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros is well known at this point. Even without the drama heading into Grey Cup, Lawrence has been one of the CFL’s most productive defenders this season, in addition to being arguably the league’s biggest trash talker after the whistle. Opponents know where Lawrence is at all times.

5.
BRALON ADDISON
#86 | WR

The return of Luke Tasker has led to a slightly diminished role for Bralon Addison, but the Ticats’ No. 2 pass catcher is capable of going off at any time. Last year, Addison was a focal point for the Ticats’ offence in the post-season, catching 17 passes for 253 yards in two games. With all the attention on Banks, keep an eye on No. 86 on Sunday.

OFF X-FACTOR
JAELON ACKLIN
#80 | WR

One of the top rookies this season, Jaelon Acklin has managed to remain on the periphery as the fourth target in the Ticats’ offence. Still, the 24-year-old amassed 708 yards in his first CFL season, and is no doubt capable of playing a much larger role if called upon. Acklin could catch the Bombers’ secondary off guard on Grey Cup Sunday.

DEF X-FACTOR
JUSTIN TUGGLE
#22 | LB

It’s difficult working in the shadow of Simoni Lawrence, but Justin Tuggle has still managed to stand out in the Ticats’ linebacker corps this season, totaling a career high 80 tackles with a sack and an interception. Tuggle added a second interception in last week’s Eastern Final, hauling in a deflection off Trevor Harris. Don’t sleep on the Ticats’ budding star.

 

WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

1.
ZACH COLLAROS
#8 | QB

With 9.2 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 109, Zach Collaros has played at a high level since becoming the Blue Bombers’ starting quarterback. Most importantly, he’s 3-0 as a starter, leading Winnipeg to back to back road wins in the playoffs. Facing his former team in a Grey Cup — not to mention the Simoni Lawrence drama — the storylines write themselves.

2.
WILLIE JEFFERSON
#5 | DL

There is no other player in the CFL like Willie Jefferson. The Bombers’ defensive end anchors an historic run defence that allowed just 64 yards per game in 2019, but also frustrated opposing quarterbacks with 12 sacks, six forced fumbles and a league leading 16 pass knockdowns — a stat generally reserved for defensive backs. He’ll look to get after Dane Evans on Sunday.

3.
ANDREW HARRIS
#33 | RB

After some believe he was snubbed for both Most Outstanding Player and Canadian honours, Andrew Harris will have a chip on his shoulder going into Sunday’s finale. More than anything, bringing a Grey Cup to hometown Winnipeg would be an unforgettable achievement for Harris in what’s been a spectacular career.

4.
DARVIN ADAMS
#1 | WR

After an underwhelming regular season, Darvin Adams has clicked with new quarterback Zach Collaros, catching six passes for 198 yards and a touchdown in two post-season games. A 71-yard catch-and-run in the semi-final was a thing of beauty, and Adams almost did it again against Saskatchewan in a suddenly resurgent Winnipeg offence.

5.
WINSTON ROSE
#30 | DB

The league’s interceptions leader was back at it again on Sunday in Regina, intercepting Cody Fajardo in the third quarter and returning it 60-plus yards into Riders territory. The Bombers’ secondary hasn’t been the best this season, but all Winston Rose has done is make plays, helping Winnipeg rank second in the CFL with 45 defensive takeaways.

OFF X-FACTOR
NIC DEMSKI
#10 | WR/RB

While Chris Streveler gives the Bombers a true X-factor behind centre, Nic Demski is equally vital to Paul LaPolice’s offence. The versatile slotback can handle the run game in tandem with Andrew Harris, or he can beat you deep, as evident on a 56-yard catch that was called back in the first quarter. With all eyes on the quarterbacks, Demski could be a sleeper for Sunday’s contest.

DEF X-FACTOR
BRANDON ALEXANDER
#31 | DB

Brandon Alexander was everywhere in the Western Final, making multiple special teams tackles, causing a key knockdown late in the game and forcing a fumble on William Powell, all while learning a new position at safety. Alexander is one of the emerging stars on the Winnipeg defence that just doesn’t get enough credit league wide. That would change with a big Grey Cup.
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