Eastern’s J.C. Sherritt Wins Buck Buchanan Award!

Eastern senior linebacker is honored by The Sports Network as the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision

Thursday (Jan. 6) was a big day for Eastern Washington University senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt. Friday is even bigger.

The two-time NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-American won the highest honor he could win as The Sports Network has announced that Sherritt has won the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in FCS. The award, now in its 16th year, is selected by sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors from throughout the country, and is presented at The Sports Network's 24th Annual FCS Awards Presentation sponsored by Fathead.com

"It's a great honor," said Sherritt.  "Even though it's cliché, it's a great reflection of our team. There is no way I win this award without my teammates and coaches, and especially the players that came before me."

As an added bonus, Sherritt and the Eagles will take on Delaware Friday (Jan. 7) in the 2011 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Pacific time and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

"I will be smiling for a long time, that's for sure," the 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School said of winning the honor and playing for the national title in the same season. "This award is great and will be something I will look back on fondly when I'm older and will really cherish. But the national championship -- that's the biggest prize you can get."

Eastern has now won the Buck Buchanan Award or the Walter Payton Award -- given to the top player in FCS -- three of the past six years. Defensive end Greg Peach, who is in Frisco for the festivities, won the Buchanan Award in 2008. In 2005, quarterback Erik Meyer won the Payton Award.

 "It's great to have Greg Peach down here," added Sherritt. "He was one of the leaders I looked up to as a young kid coming up through this program. I think it just shows the huge family we have here. It's a huge honor."

"It's exciting for J.C., his family and for the team," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "J.C. will be the first to admit you don't win an award like this without the teammates around him. For as good a player as he is, he's an even better person, teammate and leader. He's one of the most inspirational leaders I've been around. It is always fun to coach those types of individuals."

Sherritt has already earned numerous All-America honors on the field in both 2009 and 2010. He also was selected recently to Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team for his athletic and academic achievements, and was chosen for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). The health and fitness major has a 3.46 grade point average, and hopes to become an collegiate athletic director in the future.

Sherritt 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 and finished second in the voting for the Buchanan award.

"He's well-deserving," Baldwin added. "He was close to winning it last year, and for him to win it this year is a really neat thing for J.C."

Sherritt 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.

Earlier in the playoffs in a 38-31 overtime victory over North Dakota State, Sherritt broke the school record of 399 career tackles previously held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000). He capped his record-breaking night by forcing the fumble that was recovered by EWU to end the game with NDSU at the Eastern 1-yard line. He added eight tackles versus Villanova in the FCS semifinals, giving him 414 in his 46-game career (34 as a starter). 

2010 HONORS . . .

The Sports Network Buck Buchanan Award
Sports Network All-America Team First Team
Associated Press All-America First Team
AFCA All-America Team First Team
Walter Camp All-America First Team
Phil Steele Publications All-America First Team
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year
All-Big Sky Conference First Team
FCS Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team 
ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII
Big Sky Conference All-Academic
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week (vs. ISU 11/20/10 - 8 tackles, 1 pass broken up, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery)
College Sporting News All-Star (vs. UNC 10/16/10 - 14 tackles, 1 interception to seal win, 1 sack)
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week (vs. UNC 10/16/10 - 14 tackles, 1 interception to seal win, 1 sack)
College Sporting News All-Star (vs. NAU 10/9/10 - 16 tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack,1 QB hurry)
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week (vs. NAU 10/9/10 - 16 tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack,1 QB hurry)

2009 HONORS . . .

College Sporting News "Fabulous Fifty" All-America First Team
Associated Press All-America First Team
Sports Network All-America First Team
American Football Coaches Association All-America First Team
Walter Camp All-America First Team
The Sports Network Buck Buchanan Award Voting List (finished 2nd out of 20 players)
Big Sky Conference First Team
Big Sky Conference All-Academic
College Sporting News National All-Star (vs. Northern Colorado - Win, 16-0 - 15 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 fumble recovery)
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Sacramento State - Win, 56-30 - 15 tackles, 2 1/2 for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery)
Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week (vs. Northern Colorado - Win, 16-0 - 15 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 fumble recovery)

2008 HONORS . . .

Honorable Mention All-Big Sky Conference
Big Sky Conference All-Academic

2007 HONORS . . .

Big Sky Conference All-Academic

More on Sherritt

With 15 tackles against North Dakota State, Buck Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt shattered the school record for career tackles and now has 414 in his career. The senior strong-side inside linebacker broke the previous record of 399 held by Greg Belzer (1997-2000). Sherritt ranks second in Big Sky history behind the 471 tackles of Montana State's Kane Ioane (2000-03), with records dating back to 2000 when the NCAA began to recognize tackles as an official statistic.

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.

Sherritt is EWU's leading tackler thus far with 158 for the season (second in school history behind his junior season total), an average of 11.29 per game that ranks 10th in FCS. Last season, the 2006 graduate of Pullman, Wash., High School led FCS with an average of just over 14 per game.

Sherritt had eight tackles in Eastern's semifinal victory over Villanova. Besides his 15 tackles versus NDSU, Sherritt had a pass broken up, a half-sack and forced a fumble on the final play of the game in overtime that was recovered by the Eagles at the EWU 1-yard line.

Sherritt led the charge with 10 tackles, including a key fourth-down stop in the second half, in EWU's 37-17 playoff victory over Southeast Missouri on Dec. 4. Eastern held the Redhawks to just 26 yards of total offense in the second half and out-scored SEMO 20-0 following a 17-all tie at halftime.

Sherritt, one of 14 seniors who were honored in pre-game ceremonies prior to EWU's 34-7 victory over Idaho State on Nov. 20, led the Eagles against the Bengals with eight tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. His force and recovery came in the second quarter at the EWU 5-yard line to squelch a Bengal scoring threat, and led to a 95-yard EWU drive and 28-7 halftime lead. As a result, Sherritt was the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the third time of the year and the fifth time in his career.

He had 11 tackles in his previous outing versus Southern Utah, but was coming off a 15-tackle effort in EWU's 50-17 win over Portland State on Oct. 30 to give him 11 performances in his career of at least 15 stops. He had 11 tackles and a half sack against Sacramento State on Oct. 23, and in the two games before that had nearly identical games that led to identical honors both weeks in being selected as a national Sporting News All-Star and the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week.

He had 14 tackles with an interception and sack in EWU's 35-28 win over Northern Colorado on Oct. 16. With the game knotted at 28, he had his sack on the ensuing Bear possession that kept UNC out of field goal range in a third-and-14 situation, which ended with a forced fumble that led to the go-ahead score for the Eagles. On UNC's final possession of the game and with the Bears at the EWU 43-yard line, Sherritt intercepted a pass at the Eastern 21 with eight seconds to play and alertly put his knee down to not risk a fumble.

A week earlier in EWU's 21-14 victory over Northern Arizona on Oct. 9, Sherritt had 16 tackles in the win over the Lumberjacks. He also had an interception, a sack and a quarterback hurry.

"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."

Sherritt had an interception and 11 tackles to go over the 300-tackle mark in his career in Eastern's 35-14 victory over Weber State. His interception against the Wildcats was one of three the Eagles had that their offense turned into touchdowns. Sherritt returned his pick at the goal line 33 yards to help lead to a 67-yard drive and a 35-17 advantage. Interestingly, on the previous possession middle linebacker Tyler Washburn also had an interception on the goal line that he returned 32 yards to set-up a 68-yard drive.

Sherritt also had 11 tackles against Montana State, 12 in Eastern's 36-27 victory over sixth-ranked Montana, 11 and a pass broken up versus Central Washington and he had five tackles and broke-up two passes in Eastern's opener against Nevada on Sept. 2.

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.

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