Accolades galore for the Fly’n Hawaiian

[audio:|titles=flowers_chadowens_podcast]The awards just keep piling up for the Toronto Argonaut’s Chad Owens.

For the third time this season, the 28-year-old picked up a CFL player of the week honour, this time for his special teams work.

In a game nearly devoid of offence, Owens provided the spark against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last Sunday with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown.

He finished with 218 total kick return yards in the 17-13 win.

Owens’ TD could not have come at a better time for the Argos in the contest. After his team failed to score a single point in the first half, the return man took it upon himself to turn it around, taking a punt in for the major just 63 seconds into the third quarter.

Such a display is not anything new for Owens this season. He leads the league in combined yards (1, 979), 557 more than second place Deon Murphy of the Calgary Stampeders.

He also tops the CFL in kick return yards, and second in both punt and missed field goal returns.

And he’s not just getting it done on special teams. In Week 7, Owens caught for 163 yards and two touchdown passes en route to being named the offensive player of the week.

Not bad for someone playing in just his first full year in the CFL.

Road to Toronto

Owens path to pro football stardom had a rather humbled beginning.

After dominating the NCAA with a record-tying eight return touchdowns as part of the University of Hawaii Warriors, Owens failed to get a regular spot in the NFL after four years of trying.

His first crack in the CFL was unsuccessful as well, playing only one game with the Montreal Alouettes in 2009 and spending the rest of the time on the practice roster.

Things were looking much the same heading into 2010, until just a week before the regular season began, Toronto picked up Owens for a fourth round draft pick.

And it didn’t take long for Montreal to regret its decision as the Hawaii native returned a punt for a touchdown in the season opener.

Having fun again

Owens credits his breakout performance this season to one thing:  to have fun while playing.

“I feel like I’m in college again,” said Owens to the Toronto Star. “The reason I say that is because I’m just out here having fun, playing the game I love with no pressure. When I’m like that, I’m at my best.”

Though Owens may have flown under the radar prior to 2010, Toronto head coach Jim Barker said he had the Fly’n Hawaiian in his sights for years, impressed with his ability to return the football.

“He just has a knack for it and he has a tremendous amount of confidence,” said Barker to the Toronto Star. “He’s the ultimate warrior.”