Offense represented by four Eastern players, and sixth-year linebacker Ronnie Hamlin is featured on defense
Five Eastern Washington University football players – the most among teams represented – have been selected to The Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Preseason All-America team announced Tuesday (July 1).
Junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and sophomore wide receiver Cooper Kupp were selected to the first team, while senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was picked for the second team on defense. Third team selections included senior running back Quincy Forte and junior offensive tackle Clay DeBord.
Fordham also had five players selected to the squad, which included 101 players spread out among 59 schools and all 13 FCS conferences. The Big Sky Conference tied with the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the second-most selections with 13, with CAA Football leading the way with 15.
Adams, the 2013 runner-up for the Walter Payton Award given annually to the top player in the FCS, was one of 33 All-Americans from 2013 to be selected to the preseason team. He passed for 4,994 yards and 55 touchdowns -- which both rank third all-time in an FCS season -- and rushed for 605 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles. Formerly from Pasadena, Calif., his 5,559 yards of offense were the second-most in FCS history.
Kupp was the lone sophomore selected among the 31 first team selections, and was one of just five sophomores overall. He accounted for numerous school, conference and FCS records in 2013 with a sensational debut season of 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. The 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., was selected as the recipient of the Jerry Rice Award given by The Sports Network to the top freshman in FCS, and was first team selection on all nine FCS All-America teams.
Hamlin was also an All-American last season and is a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award given by TSN to the top defensive player in FCS. The 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash., received his sixth year because of two previous seasons wiped out because of injuries, and finished the 2013 season with 140 tackles to rank fourth in school history. He enters the 2014 season with 361 career tackles, just 71 from the school record of 432 set by 2010 Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt (2007-10).
Forte, who is from Fairfield, Calif., earned third team All-Big Sky honors as a sophomore in 2013 on a team deep at the running back position. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry in finishing with 1,208 yards and 11 touchdowns, including performances of 202 and 190 yards in the FCS Playoffs.
DeBord, a 2011 graduate of Asotin (Wash.) High School, earned second team All-Big Sky honors a year ago after starting 14 games at left offensive tackle. He helped Eastern set Big Sky and school records with 592 points, 83 touchdowns and 8,002 yards of offense in the 2013 season. As a team, EWU led FCS in passing efficiency (school record 182.6), and fourth in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8), 41st in rushing (183.7) and seventh in scoring (39.5).
The Eagles finished the 2013 season 12-3 and a perfect 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in school history. Eastern opened the season with a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State, and went on to advance to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in four years.