Tre Ford named 2021 U Sports Player of the Year

Photo of Tre Ford, Courtesy UW Athletics

Waterloo Warriors quarterback Tre Ford has been named the U Sports Player of the Year for 2021, winning the Hec Crighton Trophy for most outstanding Canadian university football player.

In six games this year, Ford led the league in passing yards and touchdowns, while also finishing third in rushing yards and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns.

“I was definitely happy and excited to receive this award,” Ford said in an interview with Imprint

The announcement comes after Ford was recognized as Ontario University Athletics (OUA) most valuable player for the second time, after first winning the award for his outstanding performance in 2018. He was also awarded OUA Rookie of the Year in 2017.

“I tried to obviously play the best I could throughout the season to win games mostly,” Ford said. “I wasn’t even thinking that I was really gonna win it…because I had a bit of a down year for myself, my stats weren’t as good. But looking back and comparing and everything, I feel like I could have definitely been one of the top contenders.”

But Ford’s accomplishments don’t end there. The Niagara Falls, Ont., native is also the top-ranked quarterback for next year’s Canadian Football League (CFL) draft. Both he and his twin brother Tyrell, a standout defensive back with the Warriors, are among the Top 20 prospects eligible for the draft.

To Tre, it doesn’t really matter which team he gets drafted to, though he is hoping he’ll be drafted as a quarterback.

“I know some teams are slightly interested in me playing a different position, which I really don’t want to do,” he said. “Definitely want to continue to play quarterback, but I’m still looking forward to the draft to see where I’m going to end up.”

However, the CFL is known for its lack of Canadian starting quarterbacks. Oakville, Ont.’s Nathan Rouke became the first Canadian quarterback to start a Week 1 game in 38 years this past August.

But Ford said he isn’t too worried.

“I feel like as long as I get a shot, I’m gonna make the most out of my opportunity. And if not, then it’s my fault. I have nobody else to blame. I’m not going to be sad about it. I’m a pretty realistic guy. If I don’t perform then I don’t perform, but I’m confident in myself so that doesn’t bug me at all.”

The Ford brothers were initially introduced to football by their father when they were six years old. At the age of nine, Tre started playing as a quarterback — a position that seemed to be made for him. 

“My dad is definitely happy and proud of both of us.  I think he’s probably more excited than me (sic) and Tyrell are put together times two,” Ford said. “He’s super excited for [the draft].”

Ford also mentioned that the pandemic’s cancellation of all university-level sports for the 2020-2021 season hindered the team’s ability to prepare for the next year. However, they were still able to train independently, which enabled Ford to stay on his game when there weren’t any games to play.

“I was still able to prepare myself for this season, I was just more worried that some of the other guys may not be hitting as hard as they should,” Ford said. “And they’re working out by themselves or a lot of them took online jobs and I was worried that maybe everybody wasn’t putting the work in that they should, which would affect the team. I was mostly worried about that.”

With the university football season now over for the Waterloo Warriors, Ford is looking forward to graduating in the spring with an undergraduate degree in recreation and leisure. He also said he and his brother are gearing up for the CFL 2022 draft by training and running for the Warriors track and field team to improve their performance.

Though he still has one more year of eligibility to play for the Warriors, Ford said he is focused on playing professionally. Nonetheless, he said is grateful for the time he’s spent in Waterloo.

“Thank you to Waterloo for the great four years. I mean, it was fantastic for me, created some great relationships there. I had a fantastic time and I definitely wouldn’t change it for the world.”