November 22, 2011

With a Record 19 Victories as a Starter, Mitchell Wins Big Sky Player of the Year Award

Quarterback guides Eastern to a 19-7 record and a national title in two short years as an Eagle, capped by a 4,000-yard senior season

The math says it all.

Senior Bo Levi Mitchell, the most successful quarterback in Eastern Washington University football history, has been honored as the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year as selected by the league’s head coaches, the Big Sky announced on Tuesday (Nov. 22).

The native of Katy, Texas, directed the Eagles to a 6-5 record this season, and 19-7 mark in his two seasons at EWU (12-4 in the Big Sky) after transferring from Southern Methodist University. He had more wins in a two-year span than any other Eastern quarterback in school history – even more than 2005 Walter Payton Award winner Erik Meyer.

Mitchell, who was the Most Outstanding Player after directing Eastern to a victory in the NCAA Division I Championship Game, passed for a school-record 4,009 yards this season. His average of 364.5 yards per game ranks ninth in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision history and fourth all-time in the Big Sky.

He was one of five Eagles honored on the All-Big Sky Conference first team, joining junior wide receiver Nicholas Edwards, senior center Chris Powers, sophomore cornerback T.J. Lee and senior safety Matt Johnson.

Three players earned second team accolades (junior wide receiver Greg Herd, senior defensive tackle Renard Williams and senior special teams standout Darriell Beaumonte), and another seven earned honorable mention (senior offensive tackle Gabriel Jackson, junior offensive tackle Will Post, senior kicker Mike Jarrett, senior defensive tackle Charles Moetului, junior defensive end Paul Ena, junior safety Jeff Minnerly and freshman punter Jake Miller).

With Mitchell’s honor, Eastern players have now been selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP in eight of the last 11 seasons. Six of the honors have gone to quarterbacks, including Matt Nichols (2009 and 2007), Meyer (2005 and 2004) and Josh Blankenship (2002), as well as running backs Jesse Chatman (2001) and Taiwan Jones (2010). An Eagle has won the Big Sky MVP Offensive award 10 times in school history.

The 19 wins in 2010 and 2011 combined are the most back-to-back in school history, so no quarterback has been as successful as Mitchell. Eastern has had six quarterbacks earn All-America honors – Meyer, Nichols, Blankenship (2002), Harry Leons (1997), Rick Worman (1985) and Bill Diedrick Jr. (1967), and the most back-to-back wins were recorded by Leons (18 in 1996-97) and Diedrick (18 in 1966-67). In their best seasons, Meyer won 16 (2004-05), Worman won 16 (1984-85) and Nichols won 15 (2007-08). Blankenship played only one season after transferring from Tulsa.

“A don’t think people realize that in two years he’s won 19 football games, which is more than any quarterback in the Big Sky right now and more than anybody in our history,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “He’s not only put up great numbers and can throw the ball well, but he’s proven himself as a winner. Eight different times we were down or tied in the fourth quarter, and he led us back to win. That says a lot.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mitchell enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons in Big Sky history after becoming just the fourth player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards in 11 games. The three other quarterbacks who threw for 4,000 yards in just 11 games – Montana’s Dave Dickenson, Idaho’s John Friesz, and Weber State’s Jamie Martin – all won the Walter Payton Award.

Mitchell completed 318-of-503 passes (63.2 percent) for 4,009 yards with 33 touchdowns. Mitchell leads FCS in touchdown passes, total passing yards, passing yards per game, and total offense. He guided Eastern Washington to a 5-3 conference record despite the team suffering a myriad of key injuries early in the season and having a rushing offense that ranked 112th out of 120 teams in FCS.

“It’s a well-deserving honor for that young man for what he’s done statistically and from a win-loss standpoint,” Baldwin added. “And he’s been a great leader, and helped lead our program to a national championship.”

Edwards, one of only six unanimous selections on the All-BSC team, was Mitchell’s favorite target. The junior from Tacoma, Wash., finished with a school-record 95 receptions to rank third in league history, and he had 19 touchdown catches to rank second all-time in the Big Sky and fifth all-time in FCS.

Powers and Johnson were repeat selections on the All-Big Sky first team. A year ago, Beaumonte earned first team honors for his special teams achievements and Williams was also a first team pick. Last season, Jackson was selected to the All-Big Sky second team, while Mitchell and Minnerly were both honorable mention choices.

A total of 74 players have now earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors for the Eagles since 1997. Powers represents the 20th offensive lineman to be honored since 1993.

“It shows that we are well-respected in the conference and I’m happy for all of those players,” Baldwin said. “All of those players have been recognized by the coaches in this conference as being one of the top players at their positions. It’s fun to see players be recognized for all their hard work.”

 


BIG SKY CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Quarterback - #9 - Bo Levi Mitchell - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 1L - Katy, Texas (Katy HS ’08 / Southern Methodist) 

FIRST TEAM ALL-BIG SKY SELECTIONS
Quarterback - #9 - Bo Levi Mitchell - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 1L - Katy, Texas (Katy HS ’08 / Southern Methodist)
Wide Receiver - #11 - Nicholas Edwards - 6-3 - 200 - Jr. - 2L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’08)
Center - #78 - Chris Powers - 6-2 - 285 - Sr. - 2L* - Black Diamond, Wash. (Tahoma HS ’07)
Cornerback - #31 - T.J. Lee III - 5-9 - 170 - So. - 1L* - Seattle, Wash. (West Seattle HS ’09)
Safety - #5 - Matt Johnson - 6-2 - 220 - Sr. - 3L* - Tumwater, Wash. (Tumwater HS ’07)

SECOND TEAM ALL-BIG SKY SELECTIONS
Wide Receiver - #3 - Greg Herd - 6-3 - 200 - Jr. - 2L - Tacoma, Wash. (Steilacoom HS ’09)
Defensive Tackle - #98 - Renard Williams - 6-2 - 300 - Sr. - 3L* - Port Orchard, Wash. (South Kitsap HS ’07)
Special Teams - #30 - Darriell Beaumonte - 6-0 - 210 - Sr. - 3L* - Lakewood, Wash. (Clover Park HS ’07)

HONORABLE MENTION ALL-BIG SKY SELECTIONS
Offensive Tackle - #60 - Gabriel Jackson - 6-4 - 280 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Mount Tahoma HS ’07)
Offensive Tackle - #76 - Will Post - 6-6 - 295 - Jr. - 2L*  - Portland, Ore. (Southridge HS ’08)
Defensive Tackle - #95 - Charles Moetului - 6-3 - 275 - Sr. - 2L* - North Bend, Wash. (Mount Si HS ’07)
Defensive End - #44 - Paul Ena - 6-2 - 240 - Jr. - 2L - Kenmore, Wash. (Inglemoor HS ’09)
Safety - #7 - Jeff Minnerly - 6-1 - 200 - Jr. - 2L*  - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08)
Kicker - #92 - Mike Jarrett - 5-9 - 165 - Sr. - 2L* - Puyallup, Wash. (Puyallup HS ’07)
Punter - #48 - Jake Miller - 6-5 - 205 - Fr. - TR* - Spokane, Wash. (Central Valley HS ’10 & Washington State)

*Has used redshirt year.


NOTES ON HONORED PLAYERS

Bo Levi Mitchell

Senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, a 2008 graduate of Katy (Texas) High School, broke the single season school record of 4,003 yards that Erik Meyer had in 2005 when he won the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Finishing with 4,009, Mitchell's mark ranks 17th all-time in the FCS and is fifth in Big Sky history. Mitchell also established a new school record by averaging 364.5 passing yards per game, good for ninth in FCS history and third all-time in the Big Sky.

With a quartet of 400-yard passing performances in the 2011 season – and four more of at least 300 – Mitchell’s season average of 364.5 ranked ahead of the previous record set in 2005 by Meyer when he averaged 333.6 yards per game. Mitchell’s career average of 288.7 per outing is also a school record and ranks ahead of the 268.4 average of Matt Nichols (2006-09). Mitchell's career average ranks 19th all-time in the FCS and sixth in the Big Sky.

Despite playing just two seasons at Eastern, Mitchell ranks third in school history for career passing yards (7,505) and third in touchdown passes (70), and he is also third in completions (618), fourth in attempts (1008) and third in passing efficiency rating (141.2). He had 10 300-yard performances in his 26-game EWU career, including four of the 19 400-yard performances in school history.

A year ago after transferring from Southern Methodist University, Mitchell was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Division I Championship Game won by the Eagles 20-19 over Delaware.

He transferred to Eastern in January 2010, won the starting job in the spring and started his first game for the Eagles on Sept 2, 2010, versus Nevada. His 26th and final start came on Nov. 19, 2011.

“It’s not easy and it took some time,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said of the learning curve Mitchell faced. “He got better as the 2010 season went along, and we all expected that. A first-year starter is never going to be perfect at the start of the season, but you want to see serious progress. He worked at it and we saw that in 2010 -- he worked hard to develop and he worked hard at studying video.

“In a lot of ways, he played much better this year than a year ago,” he added. “It was just that a lot of other parts of our team didn’t necessarily go as well. In terms of his growth of a quarterback, he made huge strides and really worked at it.”

 

Nicholas Edwards

Junior wide receiver Nicholas Edwards broke Eastern’s school record for receptions in a single season, finishing with 12 catches for 106 yards versus ISU. He finished the season with 95 grabs to break the record previously set by Eric Kimble with 87 in 12 games in 2005. His receptions ranks 20th in FCS history and third all-time in the Big Sky, and his average of 8.64 catches per game is fifth in BSC history.

The 19 touchdown receptions Edwards had equaled the school record of 19 set in 2004 by Kimble, who owns the top two receiving yardage marks with 1,453 in 2004 and 1,419 in 2005. Edwards finished the season with 1,250 yards to rank fifth all-time at Eastern. Kimble also holds the touchdowns record with 19 in 2004 and the top two receiving marks with 1,453 in 2004 and 1,419 in 2005.

Edwards finished the season ranked fourth in FCS in receptions per game (8.64) and fourth in receiving yards per game (113.6). In his career, Edwards already has 29 touchdown receptions to rank second in school history, and has caught a total of 178 passes (fourth all-time at EWU) for 2,198 yards (10th).

Edwards, a 2008 graduate of Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash., had performances of 13 catches (second in school history), two of 12 (eighth), 11 (12th) and two of 10 (20th) in the 2011 season, and had nine catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns versus Portland State on Oct. 29. His 13 receptions – second-best in school history behind the record of 17 – came against South Dakota on Sept. 10.

Edwards earned a variety of national NCAA Football Championship Subdivision honors, including The Sports Network/Fathead.com co-National Player of Week, after tying a school record with four touchdown receptions in EWU’s 42-35 come-from-behind overtime victory over Sacramento State on Oct. 22. He also earned National Performer of the Week and National Wide Receiver of the Week from College Football Performance Awards. Edwards was named Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week as well, giving EWU a string of three-straight weeks in winning the award. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the previous two BSC awards for the Eagles.

Edwards finished with 11 catches for a career-high 192 receiving yards, and had TD catches of 35, 16, 39 and 22 yards from Mitchell. Jamie Buenzli had four touchdown catches versus Nevada on Sept. 12, 1987, and Joe Pierce had four against Central Washington on Sept. 13, 2003.

Three of his TD catches came in the fourth quarter, and he added a 17-yard reception in overtime that set-up a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Talley. The 11 catches for Edwards versus the Hornets equaled the 11th-most in school history and his yards ranks eighth.

 “When you have on your team Jerry Rice, I mean Nick Edwards, it’s hard not to get him the ball,” joked Mitchell after the Sac State win, in which the Eagles rallied from a 28-13 deficit. “He works hard and puts in the effort and time. He deserves everything he gets and deserves the credit for this win. The plays he made were just ridiculous.”

 

Chris Powers

All-America center Chris Powers finished his career with 35 starts -- the third-most among all Eastern players on offense -- in the 36 games he played as an Eagle.

In winning All-America honors as a junior in 2010, he represents the 17th time an EWU offensive lineman has earned All-America accolades in the last 18 years (1993-2010). He was a first team All-Big Sky selection in both 2010 and 2011, and Powers represents the 19th and 20th times an EWU offensive lineman has been honored on that squad since 1993.

In 2011 he started all eight games he played, and the Eagles led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 368.5 passing yards per game. Eastern was also seventh overall in total offense (447.4) and 27th in scoring (32.4). He was a 15-game starter in 2010 when EWU 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). As a 12-game starter in his sophomore season, he helped Eastern rank in the top 10 in four offensive categories in FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2) and scoring (8th, 33.7).

 

T.J. Lee

In his first season as a starter, Lee started seven of the 11 games he played, and finished with 48 tackles (sixth on the team) with two interceptions and one other pass broken up. In his 20-game career, he has 59 tackles and three passes broken up to go along with his two interceptions from 2011. The 2009 graduate of West Seattle High School had a career-high 11 tackles in Eastern’s 36-28 win at Northern Arizona on Nov. 8, and he had interceptions versus Montana (including a 46-yard return) and Northern Colorado.

 

Matt Johnson

Eastern Washington University’s injury woes in the 2011 football season have been painful enough to witness let alone play with, and finally, the pain became too much for All-America strong safety Matt Johnson to cope with.

Playing with a painful biceps tendon injury since the second game of the season, Johnson underwent surgery Oct. 27 as his illustrious 45-game career has come to a premature ending, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin announced Oct. 19.

“What he’s been able to accomplish here has been amazing, both individually and what he has helped us accomplish as a team,” said Baldwin. “He can certainly hold his head up high – he’s a great ambassador for our program.”

On Sept. 27, Baldwin announced the season-ending knee injury of Matt’s twin brother, Zach Johnson, an Eastern linebacker who graduated with his brother in 2007 from Tumwater (Wash.) High School. Before the season began, the Johnson twins were selected as Eastern’s two defensive co-captains for the 2011 season, and were preseason All-Americans.

Matt Johnson ended his career as the fifth-leading tackler in school history with 341 (eighth in Big Sky history), and also finished second on the school’s all-time lists for interceptions (17, ranking seventh all-time in the BSC) and interception return yards (210). After starting every game Eastern has played the last four seasons – with a collective record of 30-15 -- he exited tied as the all-time leader in career forced fumbles with six.

According to Eastern head athletic trainer Brian Norton, Johnson suffered a subluxating biceps tendon injury in his left shoulder when EWU played at South Dakota on Sept. 10. Norton said surgery was the only way to repair the damage, but that Johnson elected to play with the pain for the next five games.

A bonafide professional prospect, at the time of his injury Johnson was the team’s second-leading tackler with 52, including a team-high eight tackles for loss. He had 1 1/2 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a quarterback hurry.

He finished his career just one interception away from the school record of 18 set by Mike Richter from 1971-75. Johnson is currently tied with former NFL 10-year veteran Kurt Schulz (EWU letter winner 1988-91) and long-time Canadian Football League standout Jackie Kellogg (1990-93), who both have 17 each. Johnson was also only nine interception return yards from the record of 219 held by Schulz, and his six career forced fumbles are tied for the school record along with J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97).

Johnson had 341 tackles in his career to move into fifth all-time at Eastern – just five from moving into fourth (Derek Strey had 346 from 1994-97) and only six from third (Jason Marsh had 347 from 1991-93). Johnson had five interceptions in 2010 to help Eastern lead the FCS with 26.

Less than a month earlier, the circumstances were similar for Zach Johnson when he elected to end his season. He had been playing with a chronic tear in his left patellar tendon, but the pain became too much to tolerate and he had surgery on Sept. 29. It’s the same injury that required surgery to repair on June 30, 2009. He then missed the entire 2009 season after a blood clot developed in his leg following the surgery.

Zach Johnson and EWU will appeal to the NCAA in the offseason to grant him a sixth year to complete his four years of eligibility. He will eventually have at least 19 games wiped out because of injuries -- 12 in 2009 and seven remaining regular season games this season.

Through four games, Zach was tied for the team lead in tackles with 30. Like his brother, he has started every game he has played as an Eagle – at total of 30 thus far. He has 260 career tackles to rank 10th in school history, and his average of 8.7 tackles per game is fourth-best in school history and slightly better than the 7.6 average of Matt.

 

Greg Herd

Thanks to a 42-yard reception on the EWU’s final scoring drive of the season against Idaho State on Nov. 19, junior wide receiver Greg Herd finished with over 1,000 yards for the season. He finished the year with 67 catches (ninth-best all-time at Eastern) for 1,022 yards (11th) and seven touchdowns.

Herd will be one of three Eastern receivers returning in 2011 with a 1,000-yard season to their credit. Nicholas Edwards finished with 1,250 yards (95 catches, 19 touchdowns) in 2011 and Brandon Kaufman had 1,214 yards (76 catches, 15 touchdowns) in 2010. Kaufman played in just four games in 2011 because of a broken metacarpal on his left hand that required surgery, but he will return for the 2012 season as a junior provided his application for an injury redshirt is approved.

A quarterback in high school, Herd attempted and completed the first pass of his Eastern career when the Eagles needed it the most – in the second overtime in EWU’s 53-51 victory over Cal Poly on Nov. 12. After running two reverses earlier in the game, he looked to be running a third time when he pulled up and hit a wide-open Nicholas Edwards for a 25-yard score and send the game into a third overtime. On the next play, he gathered in a go-ahead 25-yard TD pass from Bo Levi Mitchell, and the Eagles went on to the two-point victory.

“We’ve had that play in for a few weeks, but I haven’t had the guts to call it,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin of the wide receiver pass. “Finally, we ran out of everything else and decided to run it. We showed two reverses with Herd earlier, so I thought they might bite on it.”

Herd, who had 13 catches for 128 yards and a pair of scores in the final four games of 2010, had six performances of at least six catches in 2011. Versus Portland State on Oct. 29, Herd had five receptions for 196 yards, which ranks sixth in school history -- just two spots ahead of the 192 yards Edwards had a week earlier versus Sacramento State. Herd’s yardage included a 96-yard pass play from Mitchell, and was sprung by a key block downfield by Edwards. It was the second-longest pass play in school history, ranking behind the record of 99 on a pass from quarterback Todd Bernett to Jason Anderson against Montana on Sept. 17, 1994. Herd also had receptions of 49 and 41 yards versus the Vikings.

Herd finished the season ranked 15th in FCS in receptions per game (6.1) and 14th in receiving yards per game (92.9).

 

Renard Williams

Eastern defensive tackle Renard Williams had his first sack of the year against Montana State on Sept. 24 and finished the year with 4 1/2, giving him 22 1/2 in his career to rank sixth in school history. Constantly drawing double teams from opposing teams, Williams has 139 tackles in his 46-game career, including 49 for losses (fourth in school history) totaling 243 yards. He also has six forced fumbles in his career, equaling the school record of six shared by teammate Matt Johnson.

Williams finished with 6 1/2 in the 2010 season to repeat as an All-Big Sky selection and earn All-America honors in the process, as he was selected to the College Sports News “Sweet 63” All-America Team. He had a two-sack effort against North Dakota State on Dec. 11 for the fourth multi-sack performance of his career. He had nine sacks to earn first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2009.

 

Darriell Beaumonte

Senior Darriell Beaumonte was once a blocking fullback in Eastern’s offense. But the two-time All-Big Sky Conference special teams selection did a different kind of blocking in the 2010 season.

After leading 28-10 at intermission against Portland State on Oct. 30, the Eagles turned a blocked punt by Beaumonte into a recovery for a touchdown by T.J. Lee to increase the advantage to 18. Beaumonte, a 2007 graduate of Clover Park High School in Tacoma, Wash., also had a huge special teams play in EWU’s 36-27 victory over Montana on Sept. 18. He blocked a punt that he returned himself six yards for a score to wipe out Montana’s last lead of the day. It was EWU’s first blocked punt returned for a TD since 2004.

Also a kickoff and punt coverage special teams standout, Beaumonte was credited with 41 tackles in his career. He had three in 2008, eight in 2009 and 15 each in 2010 and 2011, as he earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors and was selected as the team’s Special Teams Player of the Year. Although battling a knee injury the entire 2011 season, Beaumonte closed his career by earning second team All-Big Sky Conference honors.

He was a fullback in 2008 as a redshirt freshman, then proved to be more valuable with the ball in his hands and moved to running back the following season. As EWU’s backup running back behind All-American Taiwan Jones, he rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in 2009 and had 219 yards and a pair of rushing TDs in 2010. When Jones was sidelined because of an injury on Oct. 2 versus Weber State, he responded with a 78-yard rushing performance, scoring once on a rush and another on a TD reception in EWU’s 35-24 win.

In his career, Beaumonte rushed for 379 yards and three touchdowns, and caught 16 passes for 132 yards and one more score.

 

Gabriel Jackson

Jackson played in 44 Eastern games, starting 37 of them. In 2011 he started all 11 Eastern games, and the Eagles led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 368.5 passing yards per game. Eastern was also seventh overall in total offense (447.4) and 27th in scoring (32.4). He was a 15-game starter in 2010 when EWU 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). As a 10-game starter in his sophomore season, he helped Eastern rank in the top 10 in four offensive categories in FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2) and scoring (8th, 33.7). He played in six games, once as a starter, as a freshman in 2008.

 

Will Post

Post has played in 31 Eastern games thus far, starting 22 of them. In 2011 he started in nine of the 10 Eastern games he played, and the Eagles led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 368.5 passing yards per game. Eastern was also seventh overall in total offense (447.4) and 27th in scoring (32.4). He was a 13-game starter in 2010 when EWU 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). He played in six games as a freshman, and helped Eastern rank in the top 10 in four offensive categories in FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2) and scoring (8th, 33.7).

 

Charles Moetului

A veteran of 40 Eastern games in his career, Moetului started 11 games in his career – all in the 2011 season. He finished his career with 79 tackles, including 3 1/2 sacks and 10 total tackles for loss totaling 21 yards. He also forced a fumble. He had 46 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks as a senior in the 2011 season. He had a career-high 10 tackles in the second-to-last game of his career in a triple overtime victory at Cal Poly on Nov. 12, 2011.

 

Paul Ena

 One of Eastern’s most versatile players, junior defensive end Paul Ena had fumble recoveries in back-to-back games on Oct. 8 and Oct. 15, giving him seven in his career and putting him one away from the school record. He also has totals of 166 tackles (28 for losses totaling 82 yards), 7 1/2 sacks, one interception and three passes broken up in his 38-game career.

Ena closed the year with four tackles, a sack and one other tackle for loss in EWU’s 45-14 win over Idaho State on Nov. 19. He also had a pass deflection that was intercepted by teammate Bobby Gentry and returned 15 yards for a touchdown.

Ena had six tackles to lead the Eagles in EWU’s 48-27 win over Northern Colorado on Oct. 15. Ena also had the seventh fumble recovery in his career to move into third in school history, and four of his tackles were for losses, including 1 1/2 sacks. His fumble recovery came on a sack and forced fumble by Anthony Larry, and led to a touchdown that gave EWU a 48-20 lead. He is now just one recovery away from the record of eight held by Nicholas Ramos (2006-09) and Steve Mattson (1994-97).

A week earlier in a 36-28 road win over Northern Arizona, Ena also had a fumble recovery. He has 28 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries this season, and 150 tackles and six sacks in his 35-game career.

In the most productive game of his career, Ena made big plays early and often in EWU’s 50-17 victory over Portland State on Oct. 30, 2010. On PSU’s first possession of the game, he had two quarterback hurries, then recovered a fumble on the ensuing third down play on one of six three-and-outs (plus a four-down turnover on downs) for the Eagles. Three of those three-and-outs came on PSU’s opening three possessions as Eastern jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and at one point had a 183-5 advantage in total offense. Later in the half, he had a 13-yard tackle for loss that led to a punt and a 65-yard scoring run by Taiwan Jones that gave EWU a 28-3 advantage. Ena also combined with J.C. Sherritt for another tackle for loss on that possession, and finished with four tackles in the game, including 2 1/2 for loss.

He began his second tour of duty at defensive end for the Eagles after originally beginning the season at linebacker, and he started at end against Weber State on Oct. 2. For the season, Ena had 55 tackles with 8 1/2 for loss including 2 1/2 sacks. He also had five quarterback hurries, an interception and four fumble recoveries. Two of his fumble recoveries came against Villanova on Dec. 17 in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

As a true freshman in 2009, Ena played as a backup defensive end, then started at middle linebacker in the regular season finale against Northern Arizona (11/21/09) and finished with a team-high 16 tackles. He started again in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs against Stephen F. Austin (11/28/09) and had 20 tackles to rank as the sixth-most in recorded school history. He finished the season fifth on the team with a total of 63 tackles.

He was Eastern’s fourth player to be on EWU’s depth chart as a starter at middle linebacker in 2009. Returning starter Zach Johnson did not play because of a blood clot that developed following knee surgery during the summer, then Kyle Wilkins suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice before Eastern’s seventh game. Tyler Washburn started four games until he also suffered a knee injury.

Ena was a linebacker at Inglemoor High School in Seattle, finishing his senior season in fall 2008 with 162 total tackles (65 solo, 97 assisted) and two sacks. His father Tali Ena was a standout running back at Washington State University and went on to play for the Seattle Seahawks.

 

Jeff Minnerly

Eastern Washington University junior safety Jeff Minnerly is a repeat selection on the Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). Minnerly is a 2008 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., and currently has a 3.83 grade point average as a finance major.

Eastern football players have now been honored 53 times since 1989 on the All-District VIII squad, and seven players have gone on to win nine Academic All-America honors. A year ago, Minnerly and senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt were both selected to the squad. In 2009, defensive end Jacob Kragt from Ritzville, Wash., earned first team Academic All-America honors after being selected to the All-District VIII team for the third-straight season.

The qualifying standards include having a minimum 3.3 grade point average at Eastern and being a significant contributor to the team. The District VIII university division includes all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from nine western states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Interestingly, Minnerly’s high school classmate (as well as football and basketball teammate), Jared Karstetter, is also a repeat selection on the All-District VIII team as a receiver for Washington State University.

Minnerly started eight of 11 EWU games in 2011, and ranked second on the team with 77 tackles. He had seven tackles for loss, an interception and two passes broken up. In his 31-game Eastern career – 17 as a starter – he has 127 total tackles with four interceptions, eight passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss.

He closed his junior campaign with a career-high 13 tackles in a 42-14 victory over Idaho State. He also broke-up a pass and had two tackles for loss, as the Eagles out-gained ISU 578-363 in total offense. Minnerly had a diving interception in the end zone to squelch a potential game-tying NAU scoring threat with 2:35 left to play in EWU’s 36-28 victory at Northern Arizona on Oct. 10. He finished that game with a team-high and career-high 12 tackles.

Last season, Minnerly was awarded the “Elite 88” Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He received the award for having the highest cumulative grade point average among the participants in the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Eastern won that game 20-19, as Minnerly finished with two passes broken up and two tackles.

Earlier in the 2010 season, Minnerly was honored as an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was also chosen for the Academic All-District VIII squad. He was selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for the second time in 2010 and was selected as EWU’s Scholar-Athlete for the month of December. He had 48 tackles, three interceptions and four passes broken up for the year.

Minnerly was a 4.0 student at Ferris where he excelled in football and basketball.

 

Mike Jarrett

Finishing his career with four school records, senior kicker Mike Jarrett broke Eastern’s career record for kick scoring by scoring nine points in EWU’s season-ending 45-14 win over Idaho State on Nov. 19. He made a 23-yard field goal on the final play of the second half to break the record of 231 held by Troy Griggs (1999-01), and he went on to finish with 236 in his career to rank 16th in Big Sky Conference history.

An impressive 16-of-18 kicking field goals in the 2011 season, Jarrett’s field goal also gave him sole possession of the single season school record for field goals. He closed the year ranked ninth in the NCAA Football Subdivision with an average of 1.45 makes per game, and his .889 percentage ranked third in FCS among kickers with at least eight attempts. He also finished his career with school records for career extra points made (143) and attempted (150).

No Big Sky record exists for field goal accuracy, but Jarrett’s mark of .889 (16-of-18) exceeds the percentage of all of the top 26 players in league history for single season points per game. The best among those 26 players was .875 (21-of-24) by Nevada’s Kevin McKelvie in 1990. Of the top 27 kickers on the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision list for single season field goals, only two performances were better than Jarrett’s .889 mark -- .963 (26-of-27) and .893 (25-of-28).

The previous school record for field goals of 15 was set by a quartet of players -- Brett Bergstrom (2006), Josh Atwood (1997), Alex Lacson (1991) and Jason Cromer (1990). Jarrett’s career point total ranks third overall in school history behind a running back (Jesse Chatman with 322 from 1999-01) and a wide receiver (Eric Kimble with a record 328 from 2002-05).

Earlier in the season, Jarrett made field goals of 28 and 41 yards in EWU’s come-from-behind 42-35 win in overtime over Sacramento State on Oct. 22 to earn Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

With a pair of field goals and six extra points – his second-straight game of scoring 12 points – Jarrett broke Eastern’s record for extra points and extra points attempted in EWU’s 48-27 win over Northern Colorado. He broke the previous records of 120 makes and 126 attempts set by Griggs. Jarrett finished his career with 31 field goals (third) on 47 attempts (fourth) in his career, and made 38-of-39 extra point attempts as a senior. His brother, Bryan, was an All-Big Sky Conference safety for the Eagles in 2005 and 2007 after transferring from Western Washington University.

 

Jake Miller

Coming up just short of breaking the school record for punting average, Eastern freshman redshirt punter Jake Miller is one of 20 players on the revised Watch List for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award.

The Rice Award, presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com, will honor the outstanding freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the award winner after the regular season. The legendary Rice, who played in the FCS at Mississippi Valley State, will present the award at the national awards banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.

Miller did not meet the minimum of 3.6 punts per game this week to qualify, but if he did, his 44.26 would rank third nationally with a 44.7 average per punt. He had 39 attempts and would have needed 40 to qualify. The highest-ranked freshman in NCAA statistics was 15th and had a 41.9 average. Miller’s season average came just .16 from the school record of 44.42 yards per punt set by Jesse Nicassio in 2003.

A transfer from Washington State who graduated in 2010 from Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash., Miller had 10 punts of at least 50 yards, with a long of 59. Ten of his 39 punts were downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.

Against Cal Poly on Nov. 12, Miller had all four of his punts travel at least 51 yards in EWU’s 53-51 triple-overtime victory. He had a pair of punts of 57 yards, another of 55 and one of 51. That effort earned him College Football Performance Awards National Punter of the Week honors.

 
 
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