Eight Eagles on Preseason All-Big Sky Team
Four players on defense and three on offense are honored, as well as special teams standout Darriell Beaumonte
First-team All-Big Sky Conference special teams standout Darriell Beaumonte is among a group of eight Eastern Washington University football players selected to the BSC Preseason All-Conference Football Team announced Monday (July 18).
Besides Beaumonte, EWU’s other returning first-team All-Big Sky selections named to the 29-person squad were center Chris Powers, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, defensive tackle Renard Williams and safety Matt Johnson. Offensive tackle Gabe Jackson and linebacker Zach Johnson were selected after earning second-team All-BSC honors in the 2010 season. The eighth preseason pick was safety Jeff Minnerly, who was an honorable-mention pick following his first season on defense for the Eagles.
A group of media and sports information directors selected the squad. Kaufman and Williams were among the six players on the squad who were named on all 17 ballots.
Minnerly and Kaufman will be juniors this season for the defending NCAA Division I Champions, while the other six players honored will be seniors. Powers, Kaufman, Williams and Matt Johnson all earned All-America honors a year ago.
“We feel very strongly about our team being very balanced all the way through our lineup and having weapons in all three phases -- offense, defense and special teams,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “It takes a balanced team -- a team that is strong in all facets of the game -- to win championships.”
Beaumonte is a 2007 graduate of Clover Park High School and is from Lakewood, Wash. An Eastern running back, he also finished the 2010 season with special teams totals of 15 tackles and two blocked kicks, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also rushed for 219 yards and a pair of scores, and caught 11 passes for 65 yards and a TD. In his career, he has 26 total tackles, has rushed for 379 yards and has caught 16 passes for 132 yards.
Jackson (6-foot-4, 280 pounds) and Powers anchor an offensive line that finished the 2010 season ranked 22nd in the FCS in total offense (397.1 yards per game), as well as rankings of 26th in passing (241.0), 49th in rushing (156.1) and 18th in scoring (31.5). Powers, who is from Black Diamond, Wash., and graduated from Tahoma High School in 2007, enters his senior season with 27 career starts. That is one more than the 26 starts of Jackson, who is from Tacoma, Wash., and graduated from Mount Tahoma High School in 2007.
Kaufman, a 2009 graduate of Heritage High School in Denver, Colo., finished his sophomore campaign with 76 grabs for 1,214 yards and 15 scores. After being held in check in the first two games in the FCS Playoffs, he had eight catches for 135 yards and a touchdown in the semifinals versus Villanova, and nine grabs for 120 yards and two TD’s in the championship win over Delaware.
Williams, who is from Port Orchard, Wash., and graduated from South Kitsap High School in 2007, is a two-time first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He finished the 2010 season with 54 total tackles, 6 1/2 sacks and four forced fumbles, and had 9 1/2 sacks as a sophomore.
Matt Johnson enters the 2011 season with the most starting experience on EWU’s entire roster with 38 career starts. He has 289 tackles, 15 interceptions and 13 passes broken up in his career, including 106 tackles, five interceptions and eight passes broken up in 2010.
His twin brother Zach Johnson missed the 2009 season with a blood clot in his leg, but finished 2010 second on the team with 134 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and five passes broken up. The twins are 2007 graduates of Tumwater (Wash.) High School and have started every game they have played as Eagles (Matt 38, Zach 25).
Minnerly finished his sophomore campaign with 50 tackles, three interceptions and six passes broken up. He graduated from Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., in 2008.
Eastern capped a 13-2 season and season-ending 11-game winning streak a year ago by beating Delaware 20-19 in the 2010 Division I National Championship Game. With 15 total starters back and 52 total returning letterwinners returning, EWU should be in the hunt for the title again.