Balloting is now closed for divisional All-Star nominations, so over a four-day span I will unveil one of four groups of players. Today is my East Defensive All-Stars.
Defensive Tackle: Kevin Huntley (TOR), Doug Brown (WIN)
For a man ending his tenth season in the league, Doug Brown showed no signs of slowing down. His motor might be a tad slower, but he still hustles on every play.
Huntley led the Argos in sacks, with nine, and as an interior Defensive Lineman, that is impressive enough. The Argos had a very good front four in 2010, and Huntley deserves to be recognized for that.
Defensive End: Phillip Hunt (WIN), Odell Willis (WIN)
There were a lot of good performances from Defensive Ends this year. Ronald Flemons of the Argos had a tremendous season. Garrett McIntyre of the Tiger-Cats led the team in sacks, with eight. John Bowman from Montreal finished second in sacks, with 12. And while he wasn't eligible, Stevie Baggs had a great half season with Hamilton. The East had the most dominant Defensive Ends in 2010.
The most dominant among the most dominant were the Winnipeg duo of Hunt and Willis. Hunt led the league in sacks, with 16; Willis was third, with 11. Hunt had a sack in 10 straight games; Willis forced a team-leading four fumbles.
In a year when a half dozen players could be seriously considered for All-Star nominations, the Winnipeg sack masters stood head and shoulders above them all.
Linebacker: Markeith Knowlton (HAM), Chip Cox (MTL), Jamall Johnson (HAM)
Knowlton is the most complete Defensive player in the league. His stats, while not dominant in any one category, were amazing. His most impressive are probably his two blocked kicks and his six fumble recoveries.
Johnson led the East in tackles and would probably have been a team's award nominee if not for the fact that he plays alongside Knowlton.
The final spot was a coin flip between Chip Cox and Kevin Eiben. I like Eiben more than Cox (I really hate Chip Cox), but to deny Cox his due wouldn't be fair. The guy has had an amazing season.
Cornerback: Geoff Tisdale (HAM), Jovon Johnson (WIN)
Johnson is a versatile player who plays corner and returns kicks. Johnson held the Winnipeg group together after the loss of Jonathan Hefney to the NFL. Johnson finished with four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.
Tisdale made a lot of big plays in 2010. He, like Johnson, finished the season with four interceptions, and while he didn't have a great game against BC to end the season, Tisdale did shut down a lot of big-play Receivers.
Defensive Back: Lin-J Shell (TOR), Jerald Brown (MTL)
Jerald Brown led the East in interceptions, with five. He blanketed Receivers for the Als, and during 2010 probably became their best player in the Secondary.
Before the season started, I had high hopes for Lin-J Shell. He didn't disappoint. Shell intercepted four passes this season and was part of a very good Argo Secondary.
Safety: Willie Pile (TOR)
Pile is the undisputed captain of the Argonauts Secondary. Guys like Byron Parker get more publicity, but Pile is the linchpin of the Argos' defensive backfield. Pile was moved to Safety after being a Linebacker, and he took that Linebacker mentality to the Secondary.
Special Teams: Chad Owens (TOR)
Do I even have to say anything? As far as no-brainers go, this one was the no-brainer to end all no-brainers.