Up for the Cornish Trophy

Ohio senior quarterback Nathan Rourke, seen here in 2019 at Buffalo, is on the finalist list for the Cornish Trophy given to the best Canadian player in NCAA college football. Rourke won the award in both 2018 and 2019.

Former Ohio University quarterback Nathan Rourke has been named one of the five finalists for the third annual Jon Cornish Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding Canadian player in NCAA Football.

Rourke, who completed his senior season as a three-year starter at quarterback for the Bobcats in 2019, is familiar with the award. Rourke was picked as inaugural winner of the honor in 2017-18, and repeated as the Cornish Trophy winner in ’18-’19.

Joining Rourke (from Oakville, Ontario, Canada) on this year’s finalist list are Notre Dame senior WR Chase Claypool (Abbotsford, British Columbia), Oklahoma senior DL Neville Gallimore (Ottawa, Ontario), Oklahoma State sophomore RB Chuba Hubbard (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and Oklahoma State junior LB Amen Ogbongbemiga (Calgary, Alberta).

The Cornish Trophy is awarded by a panel fo 20 journalists, Canadian Football League front office staff and other panelists.

The trophy is named for Jon Cornish, a graduate of St. Thomas More Secondary school in Burnaby, BC, who went on to a distinguished career in the NCAA at Kansas. With the Jayhawks, Cornish rushed for 1,457 yards as a senior to become the program’s all-time single-season rushing leader. Cornish went on to play for the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL (2007-’15) and became the most productive Canadian-born RB in CFL history with 6,844 rushing yards, and in 2013 was named the CFL Most Outstanding Player and Canada’s athlete of the year (Lou Marsh Trophy).

The Cornish Trophy is on permanent display at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton.

Rourke, a physical activity and sport coaching major, was named to the 2019 All-Mid-American Conference First Team after being named to the All-MAC Second Team the previous two seasons. He was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week three times during his senior season, bringing his career total to nine.

Rourke set career highs in completions (200; sixth-most in program history), attempts (328; eighth-most in program history), completion percentage (61.0 percent; sixth-best in program history), passing yards (2,820; fourth-most in program history) and passing yards per game (216.9; fifth-most in program history) while throwing for 20 touchdown passes (tied for fourth-most in program history) against a career-low five interceptions in 2019. His passing efficiency rating of 150.3 ranked as the second-best in the MAC and second-best in program history.

The dual-threat quarterback also got it done with his legs, ranking second on the team with 867 rushing yards and leading the squad with 13 rushing touchdowns (tied for seventh-most in program history). He accounted for 3,687 yards of total offense (second-most in program history) and averaged 7.65 yards per play (second-most in program history) and a career-high 283.6 yards per game, which set a new program record.

Rourke picked up the second receiving touchdown of his career in 2019 to help him account for 84 points and 34 touchdowns responsible for (fourth-most in program history). He finished the season ranked third among MAC quarterbacks in passing touchdowns, fourth in passing yards, fifth in completion percentage and sixth in completions while he ranked second among all MAC players in total offense and total offense yards per game and tied for fourth in touchdowns scored.

Rourke was named Most Valuable Player of the 23rd Famous Idaho Potato Bowl after rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 144 yards in his final collegiate game to lead the Bobcats to a 30-21 victory over Nevada on Jan. 3 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

Rourke finished his career at Ohio with a record of 24-13 as starting quarterback and was under center for an unprecedented three-straight bowl victories. He ranks first in program history in career touchdowns scored (51), touchdowns responsible for (111), total offense yards gained (10,091), total offense yards per play (7.65), total offense yards per game (258.7), passing yards per attempt (8.3), passing yards per game (191.2) and passing efficiency (146.5); tied for first in rushing touchdowns (49); second in completions (525), attempts (894), passing yards (7,457) and passing touchdowns (60); third in points scored (306) and completion percentage (58.7 percent); fifth in passing yards per completion (14.2); eighth in rushing yards (2,634); and ninth in rushing yards per game (67.0).

He owns program single-season records for points scored (132; 2017), touchdowns scored (22; 2017), touchdowns responsible for (39; 2017), total offense yards per play (8.07; 2018), total offense yards per game (283.6; 2018), most passing yards per attempt (tied; 8.9; 2018), high passing efficiency (156.3; 2018) and rushing touchdowns (21; 2017).

Rourke was ranked third by the Canadian Football League (CFL) Scouting Bureau in its second edition of its top-20 eligible prospects list, which was released in December.

Rourke has also excelled in the classroom during his collegiate career. He has been named to the Academic All-MAC Team twice and has garnered Distinguished Scholar Athlete recognition twice in addition to being named MAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Week twice.

Email at jarkley@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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