Eastern sophomore running back is honored following a 1,000-yard season and runner-up national ranking for all-purpose yards
Sophomore running back Taiwan Jones is Eastern Washington University's latest NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-American in 2009 as Jones, junior linebacker J.C. Sherritt and senior quarterback Matt Nichols were honored by Associated Press.
Jones was selected to the third team as an all-purpose back, while Sherritt was selected on the first team and Nichols also earned a spot on the third team. Previously, Sherritt was selected as a first team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and Walter Camp Football Foundation, and Nichols was also honored on the AFCA first team.
All three players were first team All-Big Sky Conference selections, with Nichols earning Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors in both 2009 and 2007.
Jones, who is from Antioch, Calif., and graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2007, finished with 1,213 rushing yards in 2009 to rank as the sixth-most in school history. He ranked in the top 10 in FCS in rushing (101.1 per game), scoring (9.50 per game) and all-purpose yards per game (second with 195.4 per game). His 2,345 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) were the second-most in school history, and his 19 touchdowns and 114 total points both rank fourth.
Eastern has now had a 1,000-yard rusher for 10 of the last 15 seasons from 1995-2009, including seven different players. Before this season, the last time it happened came in 2004 when Darius Washington finished with 1,127 yards in 12 games.
Nichols is a 2005 graduate of West Valley High School in Cottonwood, Calif., and Sherritt graduated in 2006 from Pullman (Wash.) High School. Thanks to the play of its three All-Americans, Eastern made its fourth appearance in the FCS Playoffs in the last six seasons and finished 8-4.
Nichols passed for 3,830 yards and 33 touchdowns, giving him a total of 12,616 yards and 96 touchdowns in his career. His career yardage total ranks sixth in FCS history and his touchdown total is 10th.
Sherritt finished the 2009 season as the leader in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics with an average of 14.17 tackles per game. His 170 total tackles were an EWU and Big Sky Conference record.
More on Taiwan Jones . . .
Sophomore running back Taiwan Jones (Antioch, Calif. - Deer Valley HS '07) had 115 rushing yards against Northern Arizona on Nov. 21 to record the 14th 1,000-yard performance for an Eastern running back in a single season. He finished the season with 1,213 to rank as the sixth-most in school history.
For the season, Jones averaged a lofty 7.4 yards per rush in an average of 13.5 carries per game. He finished with 2,345 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns in 232 total touches for averages of 195.4 yards per game and 10.1 per touch. He averaged a touchdown every 12.2 times he touched the ball.
His average of 101.1 yards rushing was second in the Big Sky and ninth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, and he was also eighth nationally in scoring (9.50 per game) and second nationally in all-purpose yards per game (195.4). His 2,345 all-purpose yards were the second-most in school history and his 19 touchdowns and 114 total points both rank fourth.
Jones finished the year with his sixth 100-yard performance of the season with 118 yards a touchdown in the FCS Playoffs against Stephen F. Austin. One game earlier he had 274 all-purpose yards against Northern Arizona, including 115 rushing, 82 receiving and 77 on kickoff returns, scoring once on a 71-yard run and another time on an 80-yard pass. One game earlier, he had 77 rushing yards and a touchdown at Southern Utah on Nov. 14, part of a 222-yard all-purpose yardage day that also included 75 yards and a TD on four receptions. In addition, he had 70 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 50-yarder on the game's opening kickoff to set-up EWU's first touchdown.
Besides his six 100-yard rushing performances, six times he had at least 200 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns). He had a season-high 279 all-purpose yards against Sacramento State on Sept. 26, and had 264 in EWU's victory over Montana State on Oct. 24. His season-high rushing performance came versus the Hornets with 190 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 carries.
Jones rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries in EWU's 38-3 victory over Idaho State on Oct. 3. He had 190 yards and four TDs a week earlier against Sacramento State, giving him 358 yards, seven touchdowns and an impressive 12.3 average per rush in those two games.
His yards versus ISU included a school-record 96-yard rush for a score in the third quarter that ranks as the fourth-longest in Big Sky history. He broke the previous school record of 95 yards set by John Ditz against Lewis & Clark in 1954. He had an 87-yard touchdown on his first career carry in EWU's 35-14 victory over Western Oregon on Sept. 5. That equaled EWU's fifth-longest rush in school history, and was the longest for the Eagles since 1997. It also equaled the longest in the Big Sky since 1989 when Eastern's Dominic Corr had a 92-yard scamper versus Idaho State.
Following his performance against Sac State on Sept. 26 in the 56-30 win, Jones was Sports Network co-Offensive Player of the Week and earned the same honor from the Big Sky Conference as he shared the honor with two other players. Playing in just his fourth game as a collegiate running back, his yardage total was the 29th-most in school history, and the best by an Eagle since Dezmon Cole had 199 versus Weber State on Oct. 23, 2004. Coupled with 69 yards on three kickoff returns and a pass reception for 20 yards, Jones finished with 279 all-purpose yards. He averaged 12.7 yards per rush, and 14.7 yards the 19 times he touched the ball.
Jones had 164 all-purpose yards versus Northern Colorado on Sept. 19, including 95 yards rushing on 18 carries. His 52-yard kickoff return would have been an 85-yard touchdown, but a penalty nullified it. In 2008, Jones had a 93-yard return for a touchdown versus the Bears. That return helped convince the coaching staff to move him to running back in 2009 to help replace four departed seniors at that position.
Jones missed the early part of the 2008 season with a broken fibula, but returned to start four games at cornerback for the Eagles.
More on Sherritt may be found at: http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2009-10/releases/09fbDec14SherrittAAHonors
More on Nichols may be found at: http://goeags.com/sports/m-footbl/2009-10/releases/09fbDec3NicholsRecords