Concordia Stinger quarterback Trenton Miller was presented the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy as the outstanding player in the RSEQ football conference in Quebec City this morning.
Miller goes forward as the Quebec nominee for the CIS's Hec Crighton Trophy awarded annually to the top player in Canadian university football.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y. who joined the Stingers this season, Miller participated in all eight regular season games but only started in the final six games.
He completed 204 of 309 passes (66.0%) for 2384 yards and 20 touchdowns. He threw just eight interceptions. Miller led the conference in four statistical categories – passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns.
The accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider Miller played high school football in East Amherst, N.Y. and Palmetto, Fla. Then his university experience took him to Tampa, Fla. and Mars Hill, N.C.
When the 21-year-old graduate school student arrived in Quebec last spring, he was dealing with a whole new game - everything from the size of the football and the size of the field to the number of players on the field.
"I knew he was a good player and mature, and with quarterbacks that's half the battle," said Concordia offensive co-ordinator Matt Connell. "But I knew it was going to be a process. It was going to take a while to catch on to Canadian football, especially the 12th man on the field."
At training camp Miller had to transition from a play-action quarterback who just threw the ball deep to someone who could make a pre-snap read, decide which side of the defence to attack and to read the defence properly.
The Stingers decided to start a more experienced CIS quarterback the first two games of the season, but when the offence struggled against Bishop's in Week 2, Miller took over at the start of the second half.
"In the Bishop's game we were starting to see he was more comfortable and he was showing us what he could do," Connell said of his star quarterback's breakout game.
Miller started every game the rest of the way.
Of course, the Concordia coaches respect Miller's performance, but they are more impressed with the intangibles he brings to the team.
"He's an exceptional leader," Connell said. "Absolutely everyone believes in him. You know when the ball is in his hands, he's a constant threat to score. The team trusts him and respects his work ethic. We need a leader that's tough and smart, and that's exactly what he is.
"He's had a great year and the best is yet to come for him."
Head coach Mickey Donovan takes it even further.
"He's a special person in the classroom and on the field," Donovan said. "I think if he had four or five years in the CIS, he would break every record. I feel he can be the best quarterback to ever come out of CIS football."
Miller is only the fourth Concordia football player to be named the outstanding player in the league dating back to 1980 and the Ontario-Quebec Intercollegiate Football Conference. The previous winners were receiver Gerry Prud'homme (1981), quarterback Ron Aboud (1990) and quarterback Scott Syvret (2005).