Pair of Eagles Leave Eastern Program Early

Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman signs with an agent and quarterback Kyle Padron not enrolled for winter quarter classes

A pair of Eastern Washington University football players with eligibility remaining have decided not to return to EWU for their senior seasons in 2013, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin has confirmed.

Two-time All-America wide receiver Brandon Kaufman signed with an agent on Sunday (Jan. 6) and will pursue opportunities to play professional football. Baldwin also said quarterback Kyle Padron, who transferred to EWU last fall from Southern Methodist University, is not enrolled for winter quarter and presumably will pursue his own opportunities at the professional level.

“We respect their decisions and wish them nothing but the best in the future,” said Baldwin, whose 2012 team finished 11-3 overall and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. “They both have the talent it takes to succeed at the next level, and we will be excited to see their progress. We are saddened not to have them back for next fall, but we are excited about the opportunities it provides other players in our program, and future players as well.”

As he prepares for the NFL Draft in April, Kaufman will train in Orlando, Fla., along with fellow Eagle wide receiver Greg Herd, who was a senior in 2012. Kaufman is just 20 credits shy of graduating from EWU, and said he will continue to take classes this winter online. Kaufman and Herd are being represented by Cameron Foster and the Foster Easley Sports Management Group of Seattle.

Besides Herd, several other Eagles who were seniors in 2012 are also pursuing opportunities in professional football. They include wide receiver Nicholas Edwards, who is expected to play in the Casino Del Sol College Football All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 11. Linebacker Zach Johnson, whose twin brother Matt Johnson was drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys a year ago, is also a pro prospect, as well as a trio of 2012 FCS All-Americans -- offensive tackle Will Post, defensive end Jerry Ceja and kicker Jimmy Pavel.

The trio of Kaufman, Herd and Edwards combined for 139 games worth of experience at Eastern (103 starts), and had collective totals of 601 catches for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns.

Kaufman and Padron are the second and third EWU players in the past three years to depart early for the pro ranks. Running back Taiwan Jones left after his junior season in 2010 and was a fourth-round draft choice by the Oakland Raiders. He has rushed 24 times for 94 yards, caught four passes for 36 yards, returned 10 kickoffs for an 18.7 average and has 17 total tackles in 24 career games for the Raiders.

A fourth former Eagle running back, Jesse Chatman, also left early after the 2001 season and spent seven seasons in the NFL with three teams as an undrafted free agent. Chatman was a NCAA non-qualifier out of high school, but was on track toward completing his degree to enable him to receive a fourth year of collegiate eligibility.


More on Kaufman . . .

Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, finished his 42-game career with  221 catches (third in school history, seventh in Big Sky history) for 3,731 yards (second all-time at EWU, fourth in the Big Sky and 19th in FCS) and 33 touchdowns (second in school history).

He earned the 2012 FCS Wide Receiver Award from College Football Performance Awards (CFPA), and was selected to All-America teams picked by College Sports Madness (first team), Beyond Sports College Network (first team), The Sports Network (second team) and Associated Press (second team). An All-American in 2010 as well, Kaufman was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection in both 2012 and 2010.

Kaufman broke the FCS record for single season receiving yards in EWU’s 45-42 loss in the FCS Playoffs to Sam Houston State on Dec. 15. He finished the season with 1,850 yards (93 receptions and 16 TD) to break the record of 1,712 previously held by Eddie Conti of Delaware in 1998. Kaufman averaged 19.9 yards per catch with a long of 93 yards, and ranked second in FCS in receiving yards per game (132.1) in 2012.

Kaufman finished the Sam Houston State game with nine catches for a career-high 215 yards and three touchdowns, with his yardage ranking fifth in school history. A week earlier, Kaufman broke the Big Sky Conference record for single season receiving yards during EWU’s 51-35 victory over Illinois State. He finished with nine catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and his 17-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave EWU a 38-17 lead and broke the previous Big Sky record of 1,525 set by Weber State’s Tim Toone in 2008. Earlier in the game, Kaufman broke the school record of 1,453 set by Eric Kimble in 2004.

On single season lists, Kaufman’s 93 catches ranks second in school history (behind the school-record 95 that teammate Nicholas Edwards had in 2011), fifth in the Big Sky and 28th in FCS. His 16 touchdowns are third all-time at EWU and his average of 19.9 yards per catch was fifth in EWU history. In his last four games of the season, Kaufman had 37 catches for 741 yards (20.0 per catch) with six scores. Kaufman went over the 100-yard mark 11 times in the 2012 season and 19 times in his career.

Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. He caught 76 passes for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010 to help EWU to a 13-2 record and the NCAA Division I Championship.


More on Padron . . .

The Eagles finished second in the league and seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game), as quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Padron combined to lead EWU to the school record for passing yards. The Eagles finished with 4,469 yards, breaking the previous record of 4,102 yards in 2005. Both quarterbacks averaged at least 191.9 yards of total offense per game (Padron 229.8 and Adams 191.9).

Padron, who started five games and played six others as a sub, completed 59.1 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,491 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions, and ranked 29th in FCS in passing yards per game (226.5). Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80), and was the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. In nine games as a starter and three as a sub, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

In back-to-back games in the FCS Playoffs, each had a school-record six touchdown passes -- Padron versus Illinois State in the quarterfinals and Adams against Sam Houston State in the semifinals.

Originally from Southlake, Texas, Padron was a 21-game starter at Southern Methodist where he passed for 5,902 yards and 41 touchdowns in his 24-game career. In his freshman season in 2009 at SMU, he was MVP of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl after passing for a school-record 460 yards and two TDs in SMU's 45-10 win over Nevada.


More on Herd . . .

Herd earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2012 after receiving second team accolades as a junior when he also received All-America recognition. He moved onto EWU’s all-time leaders list for career catches, finishing with 165 to rank ninth. His catches were good for 2,348 yards to rank 11th in school history, and he also has 17 touchdowns (13th). In 2012, his 66 catches rank as the 12th-most in school history, and were good for 952 yards and seven TDs. He graduated in 2009 from Steilacoom High School in Tacoma, Wash.


More on Edwards . . .

Edwards was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2012, but was hampered by an early-season knee injury that kept him out of three full games. He finished his senior season with 37 catches for 436 yards and four scores. In 2010, he was a unanimous All-America selection and first team All-Big Sky pick after catching a school-record 95 passes.

His 215 career catches ranks fourth in school history and his 33 TD receptions were second (the record is 46). He finished fifth all-time in Eastern history in receiving yards with 2,634, and was sixth in points scored with 202. He is a 2008 graduate of Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash.


More on Johnson . . .

Despite missing much of the season with a nagging hamstring injury, Johnson earned second team All-Big Sky honors in 2012. The sixth-year senior was also a second team choice in 2010 and honorable mention as a freshman in 2008.

Johnson started every game he played in his Eastern career – 39 – and had 64 tackles in nine games played in 2012. Johnson, who missed 24 total games in his career because of injuries, finished with 324 tackles, five interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 6 1/2 sacks as an Eagle. He finished seventh all-time in tackles at Eastern, and was 17 away from the total of 341 by his twin brother Matt Johnson, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Matt Johnson was a fourth round draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 and also started every Eastern game he played – 45.

Zach Johnson missed five games and most of a sixth with a hamstring injury in 2012, but returned against Cal Poly on Nov. 3 to finish with seven tackles, a pass broken up and a key third down tackle in the third quarter with the Mustangs at the EWU 1-yard line. After returning to the lineup, Johnson has 50 tackles, two interceptions and a pair of pass deflections in his final six games as an Eagle.

He had 12 tackles in his finale versus Sam Houston State – the 15th of his career with at least 10 stops -- seven against Illinois State, and 11 in EWU’s 29-19 win over Wagner. One game earlier, he had a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter to help preserve Eastern’s come-from-behind 41-34 victory over Portland State on Nov. 17. He also had three tackles in the game, which clinched a share of the Big Sky title for the Eagles.

The Johnson twins both graduated in 2007 from Tumwater (Wash.) High School.


More on Post . . .

Post earned a trio of All-America honors in 2012, receiving recognition from the American Football Coaches Association (first team), Associated Press (first team) and Beyond Sports College Network (second team). The Eagles have now had 19 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades in the last 20 years (1993-2012) while winning 21 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2012), including Post in 2012.

Post started every game at right offensive tackle in 2012, with a total of 36 career starts in 45 games played. The first team All-Big Sky selection and team co-captain allowed just one sack in the regular season (opponents had a total of 24). He consistently graded out in the high 80’s and low 90's according to offensive line coach Aaron Best. The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly on Nov. 3 and finished third in the Big Sky and 14th in FCS in total offense (442.0), seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game) and 17th in scoring offense (33.7).

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Post is from Portland, Ore., and graduated from Southridge High School in 2008.


More on Ceja . . .

Ceja was on the College Sports Madness All-America squad (second team) and was a second team All-Big Sky selection in 2012. He finished 10th in FCS and third in the league with an average of 0.86 sacks per game (total of 12 to rank fifth in school history). He had 47 total tackles in the 2012 season with 17 for loss, and also had nine quarterback hurries, two passes broken up and a pair of forced fumbles.

He is sixth all-time at EWU in career sacks with 23 1/2. Ceja finished with six forced fumbles in his career, equaling the school record shared by Matt Johnson (2008-11), Renard Williams (2008-11), J.C. Sherritt (2007-10) and Chris Scott (1994-97).

Ceja had three sacks and five quarterback hurries in EWU’s first two playoff games in 2012, including a sack and three hurries versus Illinois State and two sacks and a hurry against Wagner. Ceja had two sacks versus Wagner on Dec. 1, Montana State on Oct. 13, North Dakota on Oct. 6 and Weber State on Sept. 22.


More on Pavel . . .

Thanks to a high-percentage senior season, Pavel earned All-America honors from Beyond Sports College Network (first team), The Sports Network (second team), Associated Press (third team) and College Sports Madness (third team). He also earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors.

An impressive 17-of-19 kicking field goals in the 2012 season, Pavel ranked 25th in FCS with an average of 1.21 field goals per game. His .895 percentage was the best in FCS among kickers with at least 14 attempts. He made a 20-yard field goal against Illinois State on Dec. 8 to earn sole possession of EWU’s single season school record with 17 for the season. His 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 equaled the record of 16 set one season earlier by Mike Jarrett.

Pavel made kicks of 45 and 23 yards against Southern Utah on Oct. 27 to improve to 13-of-13 on the year, but missed his first attempt of the season on a 37-yarder that would have broken a 27-27 tie with 2:51 left in the game. His other miss was a 32-yarder in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs against Sam Houston State on Dec. 15.

Pavel, who handled kickoff duties in 2011 after transferring from Boise State University, took over placekicking duties from Jarrett, who made a school-record 16 field goals in just 18 attempts as a senior in 2011. Pavel missed his only attempt in the 2011 season, a 52-yarder. Thus, including a field goal Kevin Miller made earlier in the 2012 season, the Eagles have made 34 of 39 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 87.2 percent.

Pavel, who is from Molalla, Ore., and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2008, also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the final four games. He finished with a 41.2 average on 20 punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.

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