NEW YORK — Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff and Yale senior linebacker Matthew Oplinger won the Ivy League’s 2017 Football Players of the Year and Asa S. Bushnell Cup awards Monday.
Kanoff was chosen Offensive Player of the Year by the league’s eight coaches, and Oplinger took home Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Oplinger became the 10th Bulldog to receive the award and the first Yale athlete to win top defensive player. He led the Ivy League with 11 1-2 sacks and 14 1-2 tackles for loss, ranked second in FCS in sacks per game and tied for second in sacks. In helping Yale win the Ivy title, he had at least one sack in seven games this season, including three and a safety against Holy Cross. He also was selected a Buck Buchanan Award finalist for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year.
“Defense is not a one-man show out there,” Oplinger said. “This is really a team award and it’s good to be able to walk away as a Yale football player and defensive player and see we got some acknowledgment for what we did out there.”
Kanoff is the third Tiger to be win top offensive player in the past five years, joining Quinn Epperly (2013) and John Lovett (2016), and the 11th Princeton athlete to receive the Bushnell Cup.
Kanoff led the Ivy League’s top offense, breaking the single-season passing record with 3,474 yards. He also broke the Ivy League single-season completion percentage mark; his 73.2 beat what current Dallas Cowboys coach and former Princeton Bushnell Cup winner Jason Garrett had set. Kanoff threw for 29 touchdowns.
“Passing the ball is totally reliant on the line blocking and receivers catching the ball,” he said. “The past five years have been the best of my life and the most meaningful of my life.”
Other finalists were Brown senior linebacker Richard Jarvis, Penn junior linebacker Nick Miller and senior wide receiver Justin Watson.