Five Eagles and Head Coach Beau Baldwin Honored on the CSN Sweet 63 All-America Team
Sherritt, Baldwin and Kaufman Receive Top Honors in awards handed out by the College Sporting News
Five members of the NCAA Division National Champion Eastern Washington University football squad were honored Thursday (Jan. 20) as the College Sporting News unveiled its Sweet 63 Football Championship Subdivision All-America team.
Eastern senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt added to his list of national honors by receiving the defensive player of the year award and was joined by two others from Eastern Washington in garnering major awards.
Beau Baldwin was named as the coach of the year after guiding the Eagles to the national title and sophomore wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was named playoff most valuable player.
Also receiving All-America honors for the Eagles were junior safety Matt Johnson, junior defensive tackle Renard Williams and junior running back Taiwan Jones, who recently announced he was leaving EWU early and declared for the NFL Draft.
Villanova senior offensive tackle Ben Ijalana was named as offensive player of the year and lineman of the year. Ijalana was a force on a Villanova offensive front that James Madison coach Mickey Matthews called "the best in conference history" midway through the season.
Multi-skilled performer Jeremy Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky took home special teams player of the year honors. Two players shared freshmen of the year honors, quarterback Denarius McGhee of Montana State and running back Andrew Pierce of Delaware.
The CSN All-America team differs from all other honor squads in that it is designed like an actual team that could take the field and play in an actual game. It has everything from quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and a full defense to a complete special teams unit that includes a long snapper.
This is also the first year that the CSN All-America squad has featured 63 players, a number that signifies the amount of scholarships available to teams at the FCS level.
Sherritt's selection as defensive player of the year was unanimous as he soared from seemingly nowhere to become one of the top players in the country during his final two seasons at Eastern Washington. He capped off that success by leading the Eagles to a national championship with 18 tackles in the title game.
Sherritt was ranked eighth nationally in total tackles as a senior linebacker with an average of 11.73 stops per game and his 176 tackles were a school record and the most by any FCS player. He was ranked first in FCS with a 14.17 average and had 170 total tackles as a junior when he originally set the school record.
The 5-9, 216-pound linebacker used his speed, pre-game preparation and anticipation to end his career second on the all-time Big Sky Conference tackles list. Sherritt's 432 career stops trails only Kane Ioane of Montana State with 471 on that chart.
A year after finishing runner-up for the 2009 Buck Buchanan Award, Sherritt won the 2010 Buchanan Award a night before the championship game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7. Eastern rallied from a 19-0 deficit to defeat Delaware 20-19 for the title.
Baldwin won a close vote over four other coaches for the coach of the year honor. Others to receive support were Jeff Monken of Georgia Southern and Brian Jenkins of Bethune-Cookman — both in their first year as head coaches — along with Tony Samuel of Southeast Missouri State and Andy Coen of Lehigh.
Baldwin, who was also a Liberty Mutual FCS coach of the year finalist, just completed his third year as Eastern Washington's head coach. After guiding the Eagles to a 6-5 record in 2008, he led EWU to the FCS playoffs with an 8-4 record in 2009 and a 13-2 mark this season that included a co-championship with Montana State in the Big Sky.
Baldwin served as the head coach at Central Washington in 2007, leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. He also was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for EWU from 2003-06.
In a short amount of time, Baldwin has taken a perennial playoff participant and honed it into a national champion. Ironically, many observers didn't even have EWU ranked as a top 25 team before the season.
Kaufman was an easy choice for playoff MVP. The 6-5, 205-pound sophomore receiver was spectacular in the title game, with nine catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including the championship-clinching 11-yard scoring grab with 2:47 remaining.
Kaufman was equally impressive in a 41-31 win over Villanova in the semifinals, making eight catches for 135 yards and one touchdown. He also had four receptions for 37 yards in the second-round triumph over Southeast Missouri State.
For the year, Kaufman finished with 76 catches for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead his team in all three categories. Others receiving playoff MVP consideration were fellow EWU receiver Nicholas Edwards, Eagle quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin.
Other players receiving strong consideration for offensive player of the year honors were Devlin and Jones. Ijalana won the lineman of the year award unanimously.
Ijalana, who was a three-time All-CAA first-team pick and a two-time All-American, has received a combine invite from the NFL and is expected to be chosen in the top two rounds of the NFL draft in April. It took eventual national champion Eastern Washington to finally end Villanova's season and Ijalana's stellar college career in the FCS semifinals.
EKU's Caldwell has been a major catalyst for the Colonels during his first three seasons, earning back-to-back All-American honors and making a name for himself as a shutdown cornerback and a game-changing returnman.
The 5-10, 183-pound junior wasn't tested as much as a cornerback in 2010 after intercepting seven passes as a sophomore, but he got more opportunity to show his athletic ability on kickoff and punt returns.
Caldwell ranked second nationally with a 33.71 average on kickoff returns with a pair of touchdowns and was just one return short of finishing in the top five of punt returns with a 15-yard average and another score.
Though he doesn't play offense, Caldwell has six touchdowns on interception and kick returns in the past two seasons.
Two freshmen made dynamic impacts on their teams during the 2010 season, McGhee and Pierce.
McGhee, a 6-0, 192-pound quarterback, revitalized the Montana State offense as a redshirt freshman with his ability to run and pass.
He finished fourth nationally in passing efficiency and was 10th in total offense, averaging 279 yards per game for a team that tied for the Big Sky championship and was the only FCS opponent to beat national champion Eastern Washington.
Pierce helped to balance the Delaware attack for the first time since the days of Omar Cuff, rushing for 1,655 yards and 14 touchdowns and finishing 15th nationally with an average of 110 yards on the ground per game.
The 5-11, 200-pound redshirt freshman proved to be a workhorse for the Blue Hens on their march to the 2010 FCS title game, piling up 329 carries, an average of 22 per game, and not missing any action during his first season.
All 14 FCS conferences and 37 different teams are represented on the 63-player unit.
The Colonial Athletic Association topped all leagues with 13 selections, followed by the Southern Conference with 10, the Big Sky Conference with nine, the Ohio Valley Conference with six, the Missouri Valley Football Conference with five, the Big South and Southwest Athletic Conference with four each, the MEAC and Southland Conference with three apiece and the Patriot League with two.
The Great West Conference, the Ivy League, the Northeast Conference and the Pioneer Football League landed one player each on the squad.
Eastern Washington and Appalachian State tied with five players each on the unit, followed by Delaware and Villanova with four apiece. Liberty, Stephen F. Austin and Wofford landed three players each on the team, while Georgia Southern, Montana State, New Hampshire, Richmond, Southeast Missouri State and Western Illinois all had two players selected.
2010 College Sporting News Sweet 63 All-America Team
Defensive Player of the Year - J.C. Sherritt, Eastern Washington, Senior, Linebacker
Coach of the Year - Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington
Playoff Most Valuable Player - Brandon Kaufman, Sophomore, Eastern Washington
Offensive Player of the Year - Ben Ijalana, Villanova, Senior, Tackle
Lineman of the Year - Ben Ijalana, Villanova, Senior, Tackle
Special Teams Player of the Year - Jeremy Caldwell, Junior, Eastern Kentucky
Freshmen of the Year - Denarius McGhee, Montana State and Andrew Pierce, Delaware
Wide Receiver - Brandon Kaufman, Sophomore, Eastern Washington
Wide Receiver - Tysson Poots, Senior, Southern Utah
Wide Receiver - Brian Quick, Junior, Appalachian State
Wide Receiver - Lito Senatus, Senior, Western Illinois
Wide Receiver - Chris Summers, Junior, Liberty
Wide Receiver - Raymond Webber, Senior, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Tight End - Andrew Kennedy, Senior, Columbia
Tight End - Shadrae King, Junior, Robert Morris
Tackle - David Arkin, Senior, Missouri State
Tackle - Ben Ijalana, Senior, Villanova
Tackle - Daniel Kilgore, Senior, Appalachian State
Tackle - Mike Person, Senior, Montana State
Tackle - Will Rackley, Senior, Lehigh
Guard - Brent Clouser, Senior, Villanova
Guard - Pat Illig, Senior, Wofford
Guard - J.C. Oram, Junior, Weber State
Center - Sean Middleton, Senior, Southeast Missouri State
Center - Ryan McKnight, Senior, South Dakota State
Quarterback - Pat Devlin, Senior, Delaware
Quarterback - Matthew Johnson, Senior, Bethune-Cookman
Quarterback - Denarius McGhee, Freshman, Montana State
Quarterback - Jeremy Moses, Senior, Stephen F. Austin
Quarterback - DeAndre Presley, Junior, Appalachian State
Running Back - Nate Eachus, Junior, Colgate
Running Back - Henry Harris, Senior, Southeast Missouri State
Running Back - Taiwan Jones, Junior, Eastern Washington
Running Back - Andrew Pierce, Freshman, Delaware
Running Back - Frank Warren, Senior, Grambling
Fullback - Eric Breitenstein, Sophomore, Wofford
All-Purpose - Mike Brown, Junior, Liberty
All-Purpose - Terrence Holt, Senior, Austin Peay
All-Purpose - Matt Szczur, Senior, Villanova
Defensive End - Kenneth Charles, Senior, Stephen F. Austin
Defensive End - Mario Kurn, Junior, San Diego
Defensive End - Brian McNally, Junior, New Hampshire
Defensive End - Ameet Pall, Junior, Wofford
Defensive Tackle - Kenrick Ellis, Senior, Hampton
Defensive Tackle - Martin Parker, Senior, Richmond
Defensive Tackle - Brent Russell, Sophomore, Georgia Southern
Defensive Tackle - Renard Williams, Junior, Eastern Washington
Linebacker David Erby, Senior, South Carolina State
Linebacker Matt Evans, Sophomore, New Hampshire
Linebacker DeJuan Fulgham, Senior, Texas Southern
Linebacker Kyle Glazier, Senior, Western Illinois
Linebacker Tyler Holmes, Junior, Massachusetts
Linebacker - Marquis Kirkland, Senior, Villanova
Linebacker - Eric McBride, Senior, Richmond
Linebacker - J.C. Sherritt, Eastern Washington
Linebacker - D.J. Smith, Senior, Appalachian State
Cornerback - Moses Ellis, Senior, Prairie View
Cornerback - Trumaine Johnson, Junior, Montana
Cornerback - Korey Lindsey, Senior, Southern Illinois
Cornerback - Anthony Walters, Senior, Delaware
Safety - Anthony Bratton, Senior, Delaware
Safety - Eugene Clifford, Senior, Tennessee State
Safety - Matt Johnson, Junior, Eastern Washington
Safety - Mark LeGree, Senior, Appalachian State
Defensive Back/Returnman Jeremy Caldwell, Junior, Eastern Kentucky
Place Kicker Matt Bevins, Junior, Liberty
Punter Charlie Edwards, Junior, Georgia Southern
Long Snapper Daniel Bonifas, Senior, Coastal Carolina
Kickoff Returner Gralyn Crawford, Sophomore, Stephen F. Austin
Punt Returner Dontrel Johnson, Junior, Murray State