Aug. 9, 2007
A former starter in the National Football League and one of the greatest offensive linemen in school history, Tom Ackerman has taken over as Eastern Washington University's offensive line coach as preseason practices for the 2007 season begin next week.
Ackerman was the 145th pick overall in the 1996 NFL Draft and was the first offensive lineman in Washington and the Big Sky Conference to be taken. He was a third team All-American at EWU following his senior season in 1995.
"Tom will give us a great presence," said Eastern head coach Paul Wulff, who came to Eastern in 1993. "I coached Tom when I first arrived here and spent three seasons with him. We see the exact same things and work well together. It will be great for our players."
He played in 105 career games in the NFL, including 21 as a starter. Mainly used as a special teams player his first two seasons in the NFL, he appeared in 14 games in 1997 after playing in two games as a rookie in 1996. He started at center in 10 of the 15 games he played in 1998, and in 1999, he played in eight games as a starter and eight as a reserve.
Following the 1999 season, he signed a four-year contract to remain with the Saints, then played as a backup in 15 games in 2000 and 16 in 2001 before leaving the team. He was signed by the Oakland Raiders on May 22, 2002, but was released and signed with Tennessee. In 2002, he played in 11 games and started three for the Titans, who advanced to the AFC Championship Game and finished the season 12-6. In 2003, he played in 16 games as a backup.
While in the NFL, he started and ran the Ack for Kids Foundation for five years, with proceeds benefiting children in his hometown and Whatcom County. Following his playing career, he returned to the Spokane area and has spent time in private business and as a football coach and strength coach. In 2007, he coached the offensive line for the Spokane Shock in arenafootball2.
Ackerman is a 1991 graduate of Nooksack Valley High School where he earned All-State honors in football as a linebacker and tight end. He was an All-Whatcom County League selection in football, basketball and baseball as a four-year letterman in each sport.
He started 32 games at Eastern, playing as a guard, tackle, center and long snapper. He earned third team All-America accolades and first team All-Big Sky honors as a senior, and was a second team All-BSC pick as a junior. The Eagles won 21 games in his four seasons, including the Big Sky Conference regular season title in 1992.
Ackerman was born Sept. 6, 1972, in Nooksack, and will turn 35 during Eastern's bye week in the 2007 schedule. He has three daughters - Riley (9), Lexi (8) and Avery (6). His brother T.J., who was an offensive lineman at Eastern and played briefly in the Canadian Football League, is now living in Ferndale, Wash. T.J. is selling real estate along with their father Jim, who is the current mayor of Nooksack.