Eastern center Chris Powers and Sherritt are on The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America first team, while Jones is a second team pick and Johnson is a third team selection
A quartet of Eastern Washington University football players who will be playing in the Jan. 7 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game have been selected to the The Sports Network/Fathead.com NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) All-America Team announced Wednesday (Dec. 22)
Senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt is a repeat selection on the first team, and is joined on that squad by junior center Chris Powers as he has earned his first-ever All-America accolade. Junior running back Taiwan Jones was selected to the second team, and junior safety Matt Johnson was a third team All-America pick. This is Johnson’s first-ever All-America honor as well.
Together, that trio has started 119 games for the Eagles, and three of the four are products from the state of Washington. Sherritt is a 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School; Powers is from Black Diamond, Wash., and graduated in 2007 from Tahoma HS; and Johnson, whose twin brother Zach is a starting linebacker for the Eagles, is a 2007 graduate of Tumwater (Wash.) HS. Jones is from Antioch, Calif., and graduated from Deer Valley HS in 2007.
All four of the honored players were named to the All-Big Sky Conference first team this season, and have led Eastern to a 12-2 record overall with a 7-1 mark and co-championship in the league. Sherritt and Jones have already been named to the All-America first team as selected by the American Football Coaches Association and Associated Press, and Sherritt was also honored on the Walter Camp All-America first team. Jones and Sherritt were the Big Sky offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively, in the Big Sky.
That quartet and the rest of the Eastern football team will be playing in the FCS title game on Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Pacific time and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
In addition, Jones on Wednesday was selected as the FCS Offensive Player of the Year by Phil Steele Publications. Sherritt joined Jones as first team All-America selections by that publication, with Johnson named to the second team, Powers to the third team and sophomore wide receiver Brandon Kaufman on the fourth team.
Powers has started 26 career games -- the most among all Eastern players on offense. He represents the 17th time an EWU offensive lineman has earned All-America accolades in the last 18 years (1993-2010) while winning 19 first team All-Big Sky honors. Eastern currently ranks 19th in FCS in total offense (402.1 yards per game), as well as rankings of 27th in passing (236.6), 45th in rushing (165.4) and 12th in scoring (32.3).
Matt Johnson has started every Eagle game he has played for a team-leading 37 career starts. He now ranks fourth in school history in interceptions with 15, and he is just three interceptions away from the school record of 18 set by Mike Richter from 1971-75. He has 280 tackles in his career to move into ninth all-time at Eastern, and has had five interceptions this season to help Eastern lead FCS with 25. Johnson also has 96 tackles, seven passes broken up, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery this season.
Sherritt, a leading candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in FCS, is EWU’s leading tackler thus far with 158 for the season (second in school history behind his junior season total of 170), an average of 11.29 per game that ranks 10th in FCS. Last season, he led FCS with an average of just over 14 per game. He also has three sacks, 13 1/2 total tackles for loss (40 yards), three interceptions, five passes broken up, two quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 2010.
A 34-game starter in his career, Sherritt broke the school record for career tackles of 399 and now has 414 as an Eagle. 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 12 passes broken up, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and a trio of sacks, with a total of 35 tackles for loss totaling 79 yards in losses.
Although he missed Eastern’s semifinal victory with a foot injury, Jones has a string of seven-straight 100-yard rushing performances, with a total of 1,176 yards (168.0 per game), an 8.5 average per rush and 11 touchdowns in those seven games. He now has 15 100-yard rushing performances in 24 career games as a running back, and nine this season. He has started 22 career games.
Jones has 1,742 yards this season to rank as the third-best performance in school history, ahead of the 1,216 he had last season. He has recorded the 15th 1,000-yard rushing performance in school history this season, including 11 in the last 16 seasons (1995-2010).
He now has an average of 145.2 yards per game that ranks second in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. After leading the nation in all-purpose yards per game for several weeks early in the year, Jones is currently second with an average of 201.8 yards (rushing, receiving, returns) per game. He is also 13th in scoring (8.50 per game with 17 total touchdowns).
Jones was on the voting list for the 2010 Walter Payton Award given by The Sports Network to the top player in FCS. He’s lived up to that billing with a current average of 7.9 yards per rush to lead FCS (among the top 45 rushers averaging at least 75 yards per game), giving him a 7.7 average per rush in his career. He averaged an impressive 7.5 yards per carry as a sophomore,
Jones is only the 12th Eagle to rush for over 2,000 yards in his career, and is currently fifth with 2,955. He also has a career average of 162.0 all-purpose yards per game to currently rank as the school record, 37 total touchdowns to rank third, his total of 5,021 all-purpose yards are second, his 1,134 kickoff return yards are sixth and he ranks fourth in points scored with 222.
He now has five plays in his career of at least 80 yards, 10 of 70 or more, 16 of at least 60, 21 of at least 50 and 36 of at least 32 yards. He had a school-record 96-yard touchdown run versus Idaho State in 2009. Twelve times in his career he has eclipsed the 200-yard mark in all-purpose yards and has 15 rushing performances of at least 100 yards.