October 11, 2010

J.C. Sherritt Earns National & Big Sky Player of the Week Accolades

Buck Buchanan Candidate Has 10th Performance of 15 Tackles or More in Win

Buck Buchanan Award candidate J.C. Sherritt has earned recognition as a national Sporting News All-Star and the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in last Saturday's (Oct. 9) 21-14 victory over Northern Arizona.

The 2006 graduate of Pullman, Wash., High School had 16 tackles -- the 10th time in his career he has had at least 15 tackles -- in the win over the Lumberjacks. He also had an interception, a sack and a quarterback hurry.

Sherritt is EWU's leading tackler thus far with 66 for the season, an average of 11.0 per game that ranks 16th in FCS. Last season he 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 Baldwin. "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."

Eastern's defense stepped up big in the second half, stopping NAU on downs in its last three possessions. Eastern held the Lumberjacks to 317 total yards (3.6 per play) despite NAU having an 87-57 advantage in total plays. The Lumberjacks had 278 passing and just 39 rushing.

 "I'm proud of the defense for stepping up," said Baldwin. "I'm still proud of the entire team for staying together and finding a way to win. But our defense was put in a tough spot a number of times and they found a way to get stops. That was great."

The Eastern strong-side inside linebacker now has 322 tackles to fifth sixth in school history, and five career interceptions to go along with 10 passes broken up. He needs 78 more tackles to break the school record of 399 held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000). He also set school and league records with 24 tackles against Weber State on Oct. 10, 2009,

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 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 will be updated on Oct. 4 and 25. Ballots will be sent to a panel of approximately 200 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries after the regular season on Nov. 22.

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.

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