Eagle Football Excellence

ELEVEN NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) Playoff Berths
1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014

EIGHT Big Sky Championships, including “three-peat” in 2012/2013/2014 & back-to-back titles in 2004/2005
1992, 1997, 2004,h 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014

• Eastern’s 34 victories in the last three seasons (2012-14) represents by a landslide – by seven wins -- the best three-year stretch of success in the school’s football history.  The 2008-2010 and 2009-11 teams won 27 games. It’s also the fourth-best in Big Sky Conference history, ranking only behind the 39 games Montana won between 2000-02 and 2007-09, and the 38 the Grizzlies won between 1994-96.

• Finishing fourth in the final Sports Network top 25 poll of the 2014 season, Eastern has now had a top four finish four times in the past five years (2010-2014) and five times overall. The 2014 season was the 12th time Eastern has finished the season nationally ranked, including eight times since 2004. The other seasons were in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. The Eagles were third in 2013, fourth in 2012 and first in 2010 after winning the NCAA Division I title.

• Hosting two more postseason games at Roos Field, Eastern’s 2014 season ended with a 59-46 loss to seventh-ranked Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. That followed a second-round victory over #12 Montana by a 37-20 score – the first time in school history EWU has faced a fellow Big Sky Conference member in the postseason. The Eagles advanced to at least the quarterfinals for the third-straight season, and fourth time since 2010. Eastern has hosted 11 games since 2010 at “The Inferno,” winning eight of them.

• For the second-straight year, Eastern came up a home win shy of a berth to the title game after losing at Roos Field in the semifinals of the 2013 FCS Playoffs. Eastern defeated 13th-ranked South Dakota State (41-17) and #20 Jacksonville State (35-24) in its first two games, then fell to #5 Towson (35-31) to finish 12-3 on the season. Eastern hosted all three games at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., and also hosted three games in 2012 (Roos Field), 2010 (Roos Field) and 1997 (Albi Stadium in Spokane). The Eagles won the outright Big Sky Conference title with a perfect 8-0 record and finished the year ranked third in The Sports Network Top-25 FCS Poll.

• Eastern ranked third in the final 2013 regular season and season-ending polls, and was seeded third in the playoffs. But the season was made even more historic by the way it began. Eastern’s 49-46 victory at No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, was just the fourth time since the division was created in 1978 that a FCS (formerly known as I-AA) team defeated a ranked FBS opponent.

• The 2012 Eagles also advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, defeating Wagner (29-19) and #16 Illinois State (51-35), then falling to #5 Sam Houston State (45-42) to finish 11-3 on the season. The Eagles shared the Big Sky Conference title and finished the year ranked fourth in The Sports Network Top-25 FCS Poll.

• Capping an 11-game winning streak to end the year, Eastern was the 2010 NCAA Division I National Champions. The top-ranked Eagles defeated #9 Southeast Missouri State (37-17), #25 North Dakota State (38-31 in overtime) and defending champion #10 Villanova (41-31) in three home playoff games, then defeated #5 Delaware (20-19) in the championship game on Jan. 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was selected as the game’s Most Outstanding Player after throwing three touchdowns passes in the final 16:48 as EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit.

• The Eagles ended both the 2010 regular season and the playoffs as the No. 1-ranked team in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision by both The Sports Network and in the FCS Coaches Poll. Eastern was also No. 1 in the first two polls of the 2011 season, and for two weeks in 2012. The Eagles were as high as second in 2013.

• Two Payton Award Winners (Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011 and Erik Meyer in 2005), two Buchanan Award Winners (J.C. Sherritt in 2010 and Greg Peach in 2008) and a Jerry Rice Award recipient (Cooper Kupp) in the last 10 seasons (2005-2014). In both 2013 and 2014, Vernon Adams Jr. was the runner-up for the Payton Award.

• Former home of NFL All-Pro Offensive Tackle Michael Roos (Tennessee Titans), who started 226 consecutive football games he played in dating back to his sophomore season at EWU in 2002 until a knee injury ended the streak in 2014. He started 190 of a possible 190 games in that span until an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery ended the streak in October 2012.

• Two FCS Total Offense Championships (1997, 2001), as well as one passing offense title (2011) and one for scoring offense (2001). In EWU’s last 11 seasons (2004-2014), EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing nine times and total offense on seven occasions.

 

Eagle Pride . . .

• Two-time All-America quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was runner-up in both 2013 and 2014 for the Payton Award given to the top player in FCS, and enters his senior season 28-6 as a starter. His 2014 season was shortened by four games because of a broken foot, but he still passed for 3,483 yards (348.3 per game) and 35 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he finished second in the nation in total offense (373.3 per game), with school and Big Sky record totals of 5,559 yards of offense (second in FCS history), 4,994 passing yards (third) and 55 touchdown passes (third). His passing efficiency rating of 183.13 led the nation, ranked fourth all-time in FCS and broke EWU and Big Sky records. As a result, he was selected as the College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Year in 2013. He owns the Big Sky Conference and EWU records with 110 touchdowns passes to rank 10th all-time in FCS history.

• Wide receiver Cooper Kupp followed his sensational freshman season with a school-record 104 catches in 2014, good for 1,431 yards and 16 touchdowns. He accounted for four school, one Big Sky Conference and six FCS records with a sensational debut season of 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013. He was selected as the recipient of the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in FCS, won the College Performance Awards Wide Receiver Award and also was a unanimous first team All-America selection in FCS in 2013 and 2014.

• Sixth-year senior Ronnie Hamlin played in a school-record 53 games in his career – 50 as a starter – and broke the Big Sky Conference career tackles record. The three-time All-American equaled a career high with 16 tackles against Illinois State, and finished the season with 110 tackles on the season and his career with 473. He finished with 20 performances in his career with at least 10 tackles. Most importantly, he helped lead the Eagles to a 39-14 record overall and 28-5 Big Sky Conference mark with a trio of league titles, three playoff berths and three appearances in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

• All-America punter Jake Miller finished with all three school punting records, including a 44.9 average in 2014. His career average of 43.8 ranks fifth in FCS history, and he also had a school-record 74-yard punt as a sophomore and the third-longest with a 70-yard boot in 2014 versus Idaho State.

• After a sensational season that saw him break a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman earned the 2012 FCS Wide Receiver Award from College Football Performance Awards (CFPA). Kaufman finished the 2012 campaign with a FCS record 1,850 receiving yards, closing the year with 93 total catches and 16 receiving touchdowns in 14 games. Besides earning first team All-Big Sky Conference honors, Kaufman was selected to four  All-America teams, including first team honors from College Sports Madness and Beyond Sports College Network. Kaufman left Eastern a year early, and signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills in spring 2013.

• Helping teams win titles at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, which ranks 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history. He led EWU to a 19-7 record in two years, including the 2010 NCAA Division I title with a 20-19 victory over Delaware. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the championship game, throwing three touchdown passes as the Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit to score three TDs in the final 16:48. He now plays for Calgary in the Canadian Football League, and was MVP in leading the Stampeders to a victory in the 2014 Grey Cup championship. He also led Katy, Texas, High School to an undefeated season and a state championship in 2007.

• Linebacker J.C. Sherritt won the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. He was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He broke his own league and school records by finishing his senior season with 176 tackles, which ranks sixth in FCS history. He closed his career with a school-record 432 tackles to rank second in Big Sky history and 10th all-time in FCS. As a junior, he finished second in the voting for the 2009 Buchanan Award. On his way to earning first-team All-America honors on five different teams, he had a school and Big Sky Conference record 170 tackles, and led FCS with an average of 14.2 tackles per game. He is now with the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL, where he was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with a CFL record 130 tackles in 2012.

• Eagle All-America offensive tackle Michael Roos became the highest draft choice in school history when Tennessee selected him in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft. He was the 41st selection overall, the third offensive tackle selected and the first NCAA Championship Subdivision player taken. In addition, he was the first Big Sky Conference player selected and the highest since 1989. In 2008, in just his fourth NFL season, he earned prestigious All-Pro honors. He started 226 consecutive football games he played in dating back to his sophomore season at EWU in 2002 until a knee injury ended the streak in 2014. He started 190 of a possible 190 games in that span until an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery ended the streak in October 2012.

• Running back Taiwan Jones finished fourth in the voting for the 2010 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in FCS. He was also selected to five different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was also the Phil Steele Publications FCS Offensive Player of the Year, the College Football Performance Awards Running Back of the Year and the Big Sky Offensive MVP. Despite missing three games and parts of two others because of injuries, he rushed for 1,742 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns to rank second in FCS in rushing (145.2 per game) and second in all-purpose yards (201.8 per game). Following his junior season, he declared himself eligible for the 2011 NFL draft and was selected in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders. He was the first player taken from the Big Sky Conference and is Eastern’s second-highest draft choice in school history.

• Defensive end Greg Peach won the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS. He earned first-team All-America honors on five different teams and was the College Sporting News FCS Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP. The two-time All-American led FCS with averages of 1.64 sacks and 2.1 tackles for loss per game, while setting school records with totals of 18 sacks in 2008 and 35 1/2 in his career. He now plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL after a short stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and a longer tenure with the Edmonton Eskimos.

• Quarterback Erik Meyer won the 2005 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. He and wide receiver Eric Kimble were Eastern’s first-ever back-to-back All-America selections at their positions. Meyer now plays San Jose in the Arena Football League after several successful seasons with the Spokane Shock, and served as a student assistant coach for the Eagles in 2012. He was the AFL MVP in 2013, and was quarterbacks coach at Central Washington in fall of 2013.

• Quarterback Matt Nichols finished fourth in the voting for the 2009 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network, capping a record-breaking career. He broke school and Big Sky records for passing yards with 12,616 and total offense with 13,308. At the time, both marks ranked sixth all-time in FCS history. He eventually signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League, and is now with the Edmonton Eskimos where he is reunited with former Eastern teammate J.C. Sherritt.

• Eastern players have been selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP in 10 of the last 14 seasons (through 2014). Eight of them have been quarterbacks, including Vernon Adams (2014 & 2013), Bo Levi Mitchell (2011), Matt Nichols (2009 and 2007), Erik 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 12 times in school history. J.C. Sherritt was the Defensive MVP in 2010, becoming the fifth Eagle to earn that honor.

Matt Johnson was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, but injuries kept him from playing in in the regular season in his three seasons with the club (2012-14). The 2010 FCS All-American started every game he played as an Eagle (45) and was twice selected as a first team All-Big Sky selection. He finished his career just one interception away from the school record of 18. He was also only nine interception return yards from the record of 219 held by Kurt Schulz and his six career forced fumbles tied for the school record.

• A total of 74 Eagles have been drafted or signed free agent contracts with NFL or CFL teams since 1989. Seven Eagles have been selected to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine in the past 12 years (2003-2014), with nine selected to play in eight different college all-star games. Most recently, safety Tevin McDonald played in the 2015 East-West Shrine Game, and offensive tackle Jake Rodgers played in the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl. In 2013, T.J. Lee III played in the NFLPA game, and Bo Levi Mitchell played in the same game in 2012. Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was selected to participate in the prestigious NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 20-26, 2013, in Indianapolis, Ind. In addition, fellow wide receiver Nicholas Edwards played in the 2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz. Nathan Overbay and Matt Nichols were selected for the 2010 East-West Shrine Game, the same game Michael Roos played in back in 2005.

• The Eagles have won 133 first-team FCS All-America honors in the past 18 seasons (1997-2014), with a total of 141 in school history. The latest additions to the All-America list from 2014 (first team only) are quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., wide receiver Cooper Kupp and offensive tackle Jake Rodgers. In 2013, the first team All-Americans were Adams, Kupp, center Ashton Miller and cornerback T.J. Lee III. In 2012, first team selections were wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, offensive tackle Will Post, kicker Jimmy Pavel and cornerback T.J. Lee III. In 2011, first team All-Americans were quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, wide receiver Nicholas Edwards and center Chris Powers. In 2010, first team selections included running back Taiwan Jones, linebacker J.C. Sherritt, center Chris Powers, safety Matt Johnson, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman and defensive tackle Renard Williams.

 

Eagle Tradition . . .

• Eastern had made 37 National or Regional Television appearances in the last three years alone (2012-2014), including broadcasts on ESPN (1), ESPNU (2), ESPN3 (7), Root Sports (10), the Pac 12 Networks (3), Comcast Sports NW (2) and SWX (12). Eastern made 18 appearances the previous two years (2010 & 2011) on ESPN2 (2), Altitude (2), Max Media (2), Root (1), Comcast (1), Fox College Sports (1), Midco (1), KPAX (1), KSBY (1) and SWX (6). In the 2014 season, Eastern had 12 of its 14 games nationally or regionally televised.

• The Eagles are one of only three schools to have made the playoffs at least eight times in the past 11 years (2004-14). The others are Montana and New Hampshire. The Eagles have five appearances in the last six years (2009-14), with only New Hampshire and North Dakota State also currently on that list. Eastern’s 11th appearance in the playoffs in 2014 made EWU the 16th team in FCS to have 11 or more appearances.

• The Eagles have had 23 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades in the last 22 years (1993-2014) while winning 24 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2014). Tackle Jake Rodgers and guard Aaron Neary became the latest players to earn both honors in 2014. Center Ashton Miller earned both honors in 2013 and Will Post was a double winner in 2012 when Steven Forgette also earned All-America accolades. Chris Powers won both awards after helping lead EWU to the NCAA Division I title in 2010, and then earned the same honors as a senior in 2011.

• Since becoming a member of FCS in 1984, Eastern has had 84 players earn a total of 278 All-America honors. In 2014, seven Eagles (Vernon Adams, Cooper Kupp, Jake Rodgers, Ronnie Hamlin, Tevin McDonald, Aaron Neary and Jake Miller) combined on seven All-America teams for 20 accolades. In 2013, five Eagles (Kupp, Adams, Hamlin, Ashton Miller and T.J. Lee III) combined for 31 All-America accolades on nine different squads.

• A total of 90 players have earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors since 1997 (through 2014). Since joining the Big Sky in 1987, Eastern has won a total of 428 All-Big Sky accolades (first, second, third, honorable mention).

• The Eagles have won 107 Big Sky Player of the Week honors in the past 18 seasons (1997-2014). Winners in 2014 were Vernon Adams (twice on offense), Quincy Forte (offense), Zackary Johnson (special teams), Shaq Hill (special teams), Jake Miller (special teams).

• In 12 of the last 19 seasons (1995-2013), Eastern has had a 1,000-yard rusher, including eight different players. The latest is Quincy Forte in the 2013 season when he finished with 1,208. Taiwan Jones had 1,213 yards in 2009 and went over the 1,000-yard mark again in 2010 with 1,742 yards.

 

Eagle Consistency . . .

• In the 2014 season, Eastern had its 17th winning season in the last 19 years (1996-2014). That includes a current string of eight-straight (2007-14) and another stretch of seven straight (1999-2005), feats that hadn’t been accomplished since the Red Reese era when Eastern had a string of 11-straight winning seasons from 1931-1941.

• From 1999-2014, 15 out of 16 seasons have concluded with a victory in the team’s final game of the regular season, and EWU has won 23 of its last 24 regular season games in November (through the 2014 season).

• In the past 19 years (1996-2014), the Eagles have won 65 percent (150-82) of their games overall and 68 percent (100-47) in Big Sky Conference play. Included are seven Big Sky titles and four runner-up finishes, as well as 17 winning seasons, nine NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoff berths and the 2010 FCS title.

• Eastern has returned 17 kickoffs for touchdowns in the past 19 seasons and 17 punts for scores in the same time span (1996-2014).

• Until allowing one in the 2010 FCS Playoffs against North Dakota State, the Eagles had not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown since the 1999 season – a total of exactly 599 touchdown-less returns.

• Eastern has averaged 33.1 points on offense and allowed 26.1 points on defense in the past 19 seasons (1996-2014), for totals of 7,682 points scored and 6,058 allowed in 232 games (record of 150-82).

 

EWU Football Academic Honors

• Eastern football players have earned 11 Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-America honors since 1989, including five first-team selections. Cooper Kupp was honored on the second team in 2014, and was one of just two sophomores on the 50-player list (freshmen are not eligible). Jeff Minnerly was honored in 2012 as a second team selection. Nine different Eagles have been honored.

• Eastern players have been honored 60 times since 1989 on the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII football team (including 2014 season). Recipients in 2014 were wide receiver Cooper Kupp, running back Mario Brown, defensive lineman Ashton Boothroyd and defensive back Jordan Tonani. The squad includes NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision football players from schools in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii and British Columbia. Jeff Minnerly was honored for the third-straight season in 2012, and running back Jordan Talley and center Ashton Miller were also honored in 2012. Eight players have gone on to win 11 Academic All-America honors. A best-ever five were recognized in 2007. 

• A total of 17 awards have been won by Eagles on the FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star team since the award began in 1998. In 2013, offensive lineman Ashton Miller and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin received the award, and Hamlin was a repeat winner in 2014. Mike Jarrett and Jeff Minnerly were honored in 2011, and Minnerly was a repeat winner in 2012.

• A total of 337 Eagles have been selected to the Big Sky All-Academic team in the past 19 years (1996-2014) – an average of nearly 18 per year. Since 2001, when the league went to an eight-team alignment, Eastern has had a league-most 271 selections through 2014 (the school with the next-best total had 192 through the 2013 season). Eastern has won a total of 470 Big Sky All-Academic honors since joining the league in 1987.

Jeff 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. Minnerly was a 4.0 student at Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., where he excelled in football and basketball.

• Fifteen Eastern football players have been honored as EWU’s recipient of the Big Sky Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, including Ashton Miller in 2013-14, Jeff Minnerly in 2012-13 and Matt Martin in 2010-11. The 14 honors have come in the past 25 years since EWU became a member of the league in 1987.

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