TV PROGRAMMING NOTE . . . The Canadian Football League game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (former Eagle Luke Fritz) versus the Edmonton Eskimos (former Eagles Greg Peach and Dario Romero) this Thursday (July 2) will be broadcast live in the Spokane area on SWX (Digital 6-2, Comcast 115, Time Warner 306, Charter 287) at 6 p.m. Pacific time.
Buchanan Award winner joins former Eagle and Spokane native Dario Romero on Eskimos roster as five former Eagles are now in the CFL
The pro career for Greg Peach started just like it ended.
With a pair of quarterback sacks in his professional debut, the highly-honored former Eastern Washington University football defensive end has earned a roster position in the Canadian Football League for the Edmonton Eskimos. The rookie will play the 2009 season alongside another former Eagle and native of Spokane, Dario Romero.
Peach, who won the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, signed with Edmonton in May and began his pro career on June 17 by registering two sacks in a 45-12 preseason win over Saskatchewan. He added a pair of tackles on June 23 in a 31-19 preseason win over British Columbia. The Eskimos open the 2009 CFL regular season on Thursday, July 2, against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Peach, who had 18 sacks as a senior and 35 1/2 in his career to set a pair of school records, is a defensive linemate of Romero, who is entering his ninth professional season in 2009. Romero, a 1996 graduate of Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane, played from 1997-2000 for the Eagles. He played four seasons with the Miami Dolphins and four in the CFL, including the 2008 season in Edmonton as he finished with 30 tackles and six sacks to earn West Division All-Star honors.
Peach and Romero are two of the five former Eagles currently playing in the CFL. Native Canadian Luke Fritz (1997-2000 at EWU) is in his eighth season as an offensive lineman in the CFL, but just his first in Winnipeg after playing seven seasons for the Montreal Alouettes. Cornerback Ryan Phillips (2003-04) is in his fifth season playing for British Columbia, and in 2007 earned CFL All-Star and CFL West Division All-Star accolades for the Lions.
Also currently in the CFL is Shea Emry (2005-06), a native Canadian who left EWU to conclude his playing career at the University of British Columbia. He is in his second season playing for Montreal after he was the seventh pick overall in the 2008 CFL draft.
In addition, former Eagle quarterback Rick Worman (1984-85) is Edmonton's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. A CFL player for six seasons after his EWU playing career concluded, he has been an assistant coach with Edmonton since 2006 after spending the previous four seasons as a scout for the Eskimos.
Quarterback Erik Meyer (2002-05), the 2005 Walter Payton Award winner, signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Feb. 25, 2009, but was released on May 27. Cornerback Jesse Hendrix (2002-05) played for Montreal in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but is no longer on a CFL roster.
Return sensation Bashir Levington (1998) is now retired after a CFL career that saw him score 15 total touchdowns on returns and earn one CFL Special Teams Player of the Year Award (2008), CFL All-Star accolades (2003) and two East Division All-Star honors (2003-04).
Since 1984, when Eastern became a member of the NCAA Championship Subdivision (FCS), 56 Eastern football players have either signed free agent contracts or have been drafted by National Football League (NFL) or Canadian Football League (CFL) teams. Eight have been drafted by the NFL and five drafted by the CFL to go along with three NFL draftees between 1969-74. Eastern has also enjoyed a recent influx of players into the Arena Football League (AFL) and arenafootball2 (af2).
More on Greg Peach . . .
Peach finished 2008 with his career with 18 sacks as a senior and 35 1/2 sacks in his career to set a pair of school records. He finished his career as a two-time FCS All-American and exited a stout 6-foot-3, 255 pounds. His pro career began in spring 2009 with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League after winning the Buck Buchanan Award just a few months earlier.
"It's hard for me to see myself as the top defensive player," admitted the 2005 graduate of Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash. "Fortunately there were other people that thought that, and it's great that I won. It's a great compliment. But I have a lot of work to do to get to the next level, and I'm going to keep working to get better."
One person who was not surprised was EWU head coach Beau Baldwin, who was an assistant coach at Eastern in 2005 when Erik Meyer won the Walter Payton Award given to the top offensive player in FCS. Baldwin watched Peach have six multi-sack games in 2008, including four against the Montana Grizzlies in a 2008 game.
"I'm repeating myself, but everything that has come his way he's earned," he said. "I was fortunate enough to be a part of recruiting Greg, and he weighed 205 pounds when he got here. He wondered if he would be able to fit in here, but even with that humbleness he had an inner confidence that took him to where he is now. It's a really impressive honor to win the Buchanan Award, but again, he deserves it."
Peach was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP after leading FCS and the league with averages of 1.64 sacks and 2.1 tackles for loss per game. Peach also set school records at Eastern for season tackles for loss (28) and career tackles for loss (63), and was twice honored as a first team All-Big Sky selection.
He finished his career ranked second in both single season and career sacks in the Big Sky, and in the top five in both categories in FCS history (since 2000 when the BSC and FCS began recognizing sacks, tackles and tackles for loss as official statistics).
On Dec. 19, Peach and Baldwin attended the FCS Championship game before heading to nearby Nashville to watch former Eagle Michael Roos play in Sunday's game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. Roos, who is also from Vancouver, Wash. (Mountain View HS '00), is the starting left offensive tackle for the Titans concluded his 2008 season by earning All-Pro honors and being named to the Pro Bowl. He last played at EWU in 2004 -- the year before Peach arrived on campus.
"I'm so happy for Michael and what he's accomplished," said Baldwin. "His story coming out of high school is very similar to Greg's. He was undersized -- I think he weighed 220 pounds coming out of high school -- and he was a basketball player who played only one year of high school football. It's a proud feeling to see those guys develop into this type of player. But the majority of credit always goes to their work ethic. They have that extra something to get them from being a talented player to a great player and an All-America player. And now, for Michael Roos, All-Pro and for Greg, the Buchanan Award -- you can't get any higher than that."