James Wilder Jr. credits Trestman after winning rookie award

In the moments after his win as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie, James Wilder Jr. told the perfect Marc Trestman story.

Wilder says he arrived at Toronto Argonaut’s training camp “out of it mentally” as he was forced to compete for a roster spot with a bevy of other running backs. He started the season on special teams, chasing down punt returners but getting precious few opportunities on offence.

“There were some times where I was, man, what am I doing wrong? He was like ‘trust the process, trust the process,'” Wilder said accepting the honour at league’s awards gala in Ottawa Wednesday night. “Every week, I was like’ coach I’m sorry to visit you again or call you late at night… ‘trust the process, James.’

“I trusted his word.”

The 61-year-old Trestman won the award as the league’s top coach for the second time in his career, leading the Argos to a 9-9 mark and an East Division title in his first season after a four-year hiatus from the CFL.

The ultra-prepared Trestman named every assistant coach in his acceptance speech.

“I didn’t do a great job of explaining it because it’s way past my bedtime but this is the time you realize that you could have never done it alone,” he said afterward. “You see it a lot when people win awards and what happens is, it just crystalizes: it’s not about you, it took so many people, so many moments in your life. I hope I communicated that.”

Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray fell short in his third bid to win the league’s Most Outstanding Player award as Edmonton pivot Mike Reilly took home the honour for the first time in his career. Centre Sean McEwen, nominated in the Most Outstanding Lineman category, lost out to Winnipeg Blue Bomber Stanley Bryant.

The hardware was handed out at a swanky event as part of the Grey Cup festivities taking place in Ottawa this week. The honourees were selected by members of the Football Reporters of Canada as well as the league’s head coaches.

Other winners included Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton as Most Outstanding Defensive player, Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris as top Canadian, and diminutive Stampeder return man Roy Finch as Most Outstanding Special Teams player. Montreal offensive lineman Luc Brodeur-Jourdain took home the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ award while Edmonton receiver Adarius Bowman was the Tom Pate honouree for community involvement.

Wilder Jr. ran away with the rookie award, taking all but five votes in the race over Calgary’s Marken Michel, recording 872 yards rushing and 533 receiving while scoring a total of five touchdowns in only 10 starts. He also brought his entire offensive line up on stage with them as he accepted the award – after already taking them out for dinner after season-finale.

“They don’t get enough recognition and I felt that was something that was needed,” Wilder Jr. said. “I took them to all-you-can eat. Those are some big guys.”

Overall, the Argonauts and Stampeders, who will face off in Sunday’s Grey Cup, took home four of the seven top awards on Thursday, winning two apiece. Wilder said it’s the large silver piece of hardware that’s been his motivation since day one – especially considering he wasn’t aware the CFL honoured its top rookie when he arrived in late May.

“I didn’t know [the award] existed,” Wilder said. “I’m always a team first guy – I knew about the Grey Cup. I tried to put the team goals first and these come with it.”

Wilder’s father, former NFL running back James Wilder Sr., didn’t make it to the awards show but will watch his son play in person for the first time on more than two years in Sunday’s championship game.

Wilder Jr. says the family has always pushed each other and his older brother Curtis wasn’t about to let the honour go to his head.

“He was like ‘you’re a 25-year-old rookie, what kind of rookie is that? You don’t get props for that,” Wilder Jr. said, imitating his brother’s voice for comedic effect. “‘Get a Grey Cup, then talk.'”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1571 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

16 Comments on James Wilder Jr. credits Trestman after winning rookie award

  1. Congratulations to James “Wild Thing” Wildman for winning rookie of the year award. And Marc Trestman for coach of the year award. Well deserved.Go Argos

  2. 6ft6ofgoodness // November 24, 2017 at 1:40 am //

    Now Marc Trestman is an excellent coach, we all know that and I have the utmost respect for him. But he doesn’t deserve the 2017 CFL Coach of the year award. Receiving the award for leading a team to a .500 record is absolutely ridiculous. The Argos only had 4 more wins this season than last year. I don’t like Chris Jones, but he at least lead the Riders to have a winning record, and into the Eastern Final. Once again it’s decisions like this that lead avid CFL followers, like myself, to question the bias and favoritism the league appears to show for the Argos, which makes me hate them even that much more.

    ARGOS SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Argos and Sask, including playoffs, are both 10 and 9, with the Boatmen obviously prevailing in the playoff tilt. Moreover, they may well end up hoisting Lord Grey’s coveted mug. Your suggestion of favouritism rings hallow.

      • 6ft6ofgoodness // November 24, 2017 at 5:38 am //


        You know as well as I do that when referring to team season win/ loss records, they are kept separately from playoff wins/loss records. They are not combined together. Argos went into the playoffs with a .500 record, and the Riders went in with a winning record.

    • I think a case can be made for either one. I despise Jones, but cannot deny he moved the club a long distance this year. But lets not forget that Trestman took over in March a listless team that just didn’t show up to games last year and slowly built a winner.

      On merit basis, it is pretty much tie. But forget the CFL conspiracy theory stuff. If any non-football factors influenced the voting it is the personalities of each coach.

  3. Now James, return the loyalty to Trestman by staying with the Argos (no return trips to the NFL).

    Thank you.
    Argo Fan

  4. The CFL and the media will do anything to make the Argo’s relevant which they are not and will never be in Toronto.

    • Just curious, NFL or TFC troll? Always interesting how they care enough to come to these sites read the articles and post to tell us they don’t care. L-O-S-E-R

      • You nailed it. Always tough to tell. Could be TFC or a very very bitter NFL fan angry about the 0% chance of the NFL arriving in Toronto.

    • Oh yes, the media is sooooo very friendly to the Argonauts. The Toronto Sun is the exception and does a great job of covering the CFL.

  5. Jim Poop should be hired to find BIGFOOT! Mr. Popp has once again proven that he can find the giant talent that leaves the largest footprint on the CFL.Would not dare miss an Argo game with James Wilder running and catching the ball.

  6. If you ask me June Jones should have won the Coach of the Year for the turnaround in Hamilton. And Spencer should have won over Finch the PED cheater

  7. 6ft6ofgoodness // November 24, 2017 at 3:51 pm //


    As a diehard Ticats fan, I disagree because Hamilton has a losing record.

  8. Trestman was the right choice for coach of the year. Jones was in a his second year and had two full offseasons while Trestman had about two months of off season, missed free agency and got his team in the playoffs, with a home playoff game and off to the big game. Way ahead of Jones who only had one more win after two free agencies and countless mini camps. No comparison.

  9. solara2000 // November 25, 2017 at 9:33 am //

    Hey the story is on JWJ – his success and his recognition of others who helped make that success possible. And its also about a young man who was obviously raised well in a centred family; kudos to them all. Need more stories like that.

  10. Wilder could be the new face of the team. He’s on a great curve and new fans in TO are embracing him… they gotta keep him from heading south.

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