Now just 19 tackles from breaking EWU career record, senior Buck Buchanan candidate ends regular season with eight tackles against Idaho State
Buck Buchanan Award candidate J.C. Sherritt has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season and the fifth time in his career for his performance in EWU's 34-7 victory over Idaho State last Saturday (Nov. 20).
Sherritt, one of 14 seniors who were honored in pre-game ceremonies prior to the victory that clinched the Big Sky Conference co-championship for EWU, led the Eagles against the Bengals with eight tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. His force and recovery came in the second quarter at the EWU 5-yard line to squelch a Bengal scoring threat, and led to a 95-yard EWU drive and 28-7 halftime lead.
Sherritt is second in school history in career tackles with a total of 381, and the senior strong-side inside linebacker needs just 19 more to break the school record of 399 held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000). Sherritt already holds school and league records with 170 tackles in the 2009 season and 24 tackles against Weber State on Oct. 10, 2009. He also has six career interceptions to go along with 11 passes broken up, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and a pair of sacks, with a total of 31 1/2 tackles for loss totaling 72 yards in losses.
Sherritt is EWU’s leading tackler thus far with 125 for the season, an average of 11.36 per game that ranks 10th in FCS. Last season, the 2006 graduate of Pullman, Wash., High School led FCS with an average of just over 14 per game.
“He’s already had a couple of key interceptions and he’s gotten better in his pass defense," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwinearlier this season. "When he needs to step up and make tackles he does it, and time after time he’s tough to block. All the way back to last year he has been playing like a Buck Buchanan Award candidate. I think that sometimes when you are a little bit better as a whole on defense certain individual stats might go down a little bit. But that takes nothing away from how he is playing -- he’s doing other things that sometimes don’t get noticed even that much better.”
A year after finishing second in the voting, Sherritt was selected to the 20-player watch list for the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award awarded by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Sherritt, a 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School, averaged 14.17 tackles per game (170 total) as a junior in 2009 to lead FCS and catapult him into contention for the Buchanan Award. Arthur Moats from James Madison won the award last year, and in 2008 the winner was Eastern’s Greg Peach (now playing for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League).
Since 2000 when the Big Sky and FCS began keeping statistics as a record, Sherritt’s total was a league record and the seventh-most in FCS, and his average of 14.17 was also a league record and 13th in FCS history. Besides his 170 tackles, Sherritt had 14 tackles for loss, four passes broken up, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
Sponsored by Fathead.com, the Buchanan Award is in its 16th season and will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas -- the night before the championship game of the FCS Playoffs.
Besides Sherritt, other finalists from 2009 on this year’s initial watch list include Grambling State senior defensive end Christian Anthony (fourth), Appalachian State senior strong safety Mark LeGree (fifth) and Richmond senior defensive tackle Martin Parker (13th). Two other Big Sky Conference players are on the list -- defensive end Christian Clark of Sacramento State and Montana junior cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
The Buchanan Award Watch List has been revised twice, and ballots have been sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
The Sports Network also presents the Walter Payton and Eddie Robinson awards, which are also sponsored by Fathead. The Payton Award honors the FCS player of the year and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year. Those two awards, like the Buchanan, will be presented at the national awards banquet.