Laurier’s Onyeka wins award for top defensive player

nakas_mathewmccarthy_waterlooregionrecord
Photo: Mathew McCarthy, Waterloo Region Record

Christine Rivet
Waterloo Region Record

Nakas for President!

The Ontario University Athletics football conference has spoken.

Nakas Onyeka, the chatterbox linebacker from Wilfrid Laurier, put his money where his mouth is this season to be named the President’s Trophy winner as the outstanding standup defensive football player in Ontario University Athletics on Thursday.

Onyeka, the undisputed foreman of Laurier’s wrecking crew with his on-field performance and his non-stop sideline banter, was gracious in his acceptance speech.

“This is an accumulation of four years of work,” Onyeka, 22, said at the awards ceremony in Burlington.

“I have to pay tribute to coach (Michael) Faulds. He’s changed the culture of our team,” Onyeka said in an interview a couple days before Laurier visits the Western Mustangs to contest the Yates Cup on Saturday.

He also credited his teammates, including “the best (defensive tackle) I believe in Canada, who makes my job a whole lot easier is Jalen Price — and a bunch of pieces around me that help me make the plays.”

Onyeka, of Brampton, becomes the 10th Golden Hawk to win the President’s Trophy since 1980, the most by any school through that period.

The tireless Onyeka, a six-foot, 210-pound human fireball and communications studies student, led a vaunted Hawk defence which stood atop the conference in defensive touchdowns scored (six) and sacks made (36).

Individually, Onyeka registered a league-best 51 solo tackles and ranked fourth in total tackles (59.5), tackles per game (7.4), sacks (5.5) and sack yards (40).

Last season, the Hawk defence produced the Metras Award winner for conference lineman of the year, Kwaku Boateng, currently ranked the CFL’s top draft prospect playing Canadian university football.

Onyeka was rated No. 16 on the CFL’s 20-player prospect list which came out in September.

Also Thursday, the University of Ottawa’s fifth-year quarterback, Derek Wendel, was named conference MVP.

Wendel, a philosophy major, set single-season conference records for the second straight year in pass attempts (347) and completions (232). His 2,936 passing yards ranked him seventh on the all-time Canadian university list.

Other top award winners Thursdays included: outstanding lineman, Sean Jamieson, Western (J.P. Metras Trophy); rookie of the year, Adam Preocanin, McMaster (Norm Marshall Trophy); coach of the year, Michael Faulds, Laurier (Tuffy Knight Award); outstanding academics, athletics, community service, Mark Mackie, McMaster (Russ Jackson nominee); volunteer coach of the year, Phil Roberts, Queen’s; and officials’ award of merit, Kevin Baird.

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