Western Mustangs running back Tyler Varga was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Rookie of the Year, while four of his teammates earned All-Canadian honours, as the CIS announced its major award winners prior to the 47th Vanier Cup final.
Varga enjoyed an exceptional first season with the Mustangs, finishing with a CIS-best 15 touchdowns and 799 rushing yards, which ranked second in the Ontario University Athletics and fifth in the CIS. His 114.14 yards per game average was also second-best in the conference and third-best in the CIS, while he finished as the nation’s second-highest scorer (90 points), and the only non-kicker in the top 12.
“I knew, coming in, that he was an outstanding talent,” says Western Head Coach Greg Marshall. “But he was even better than I expected. Tyler is a complete football player, and he made a big impact.”
The 18-year-old opened his career with a three-touchdown performance against Waterloo, and followed that up with a four-touchdown, 149-yard game against McMaster. Through four games, Varga had found the end zone 12 times and was on pace to set a CIS record, but settled for 15 touchdowns (second-most in Mustangs history) after missing nearly two games with eye and neck injuries.
In the playoffs, Varga ran for a season-best 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 33-27 OUA Semi-Final win over Windsor en route to earning game MVP and CIS Offensive Player of the Week honours.
In being named the top rookie in the CIS, Varga becomes only the third Western player to receive the Peter Gorman Trophy in the award’s 36-year history, joining running back Sean Reade (1992) and wide receiver Andy Fantuz (2002).
The Mustangs also had four players named All-Canadians as tackle Brendan Dunn, guard Matt Norman and halfback Beau Landry earned spots on the first team, while punter Darryl Wheeler was named to the second team.