Last year’s Buck Buchanan Award winner is up for another coveted honor as Edmonton reaches playoff semifinals
Another season, another award candidacy for linebacker J.C. Sherritt.
The former Eastern Washington University All-American is the Western Division finalist for Most Outstanding Rookie, an honor that will be awarded on Thursday, Nov. 24 in conjunction with the Grey Cup in Vancouver, B.C., on Nov. 27. The candidate in the Eastern Division is Hamilton wide receiver Chris Williams (formerly from New Mexico State), who finished with 70 receptions for 1,064 yards and six touchdowns.
Sherritt won the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision after leading Eastern to the NCAA Division I title. He had 11 tackles in his CFL debut, and went on to start 15 games before being hampered late in the year by a finger injury that required surgery and an ankle injury suffered on Oct. 21 that kept him out of the last two regular season games. The 11-7 Eskimos, who also have former Eagles Greg Peach and Matt Nichols on their roster, host Calgary in the division semifinals of the CFL Playoffs this Sunday (Nov. 13).
Sherritt led the CFL in tackles early in his rookie season, but fell to 12th because of his injuries, which have paralleled the injury woes of EWU this season. He had 58 stops after 10 games to rank second in the CFL at the time. He finished with 72 defensive tackles, three quarterback sacks, three tackles for losses for 4 yards, three pass knockdowns, three forced fumbles and 13 special teams tackles.
Peach, who missed six games after having mid-season knee surgery, started 10 of the 12 games he played while playing both on the defensive line and at linebacker. He finished the year with 21 defensive tackles, three sacks, four special teams tackles, an interception, a tackle for a loss of 1 yard, a knockdown, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for 13 yards. He was named CFL Defensive Player of the Week for his four tackles and two sacks against Calgary on July 23, but left the game in the fourth quarter with his knee injury.
Nichols, a former quarterback for EWU, has also been on the team in a reserve role this season and has not played.
10 Former Eagles Currently in the NFL or CFL
Eastern has four former players currently playing in the National Football League and another six currently in the Canadian Football League.
A newcomer in the NFL is running back Taiwan Jones (Oakland Raiders), who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in his debut in a preseason game on Aug. 28 against New Orleans. A veteran in the NFL is offensive tackle Michael Roos (Tennessee Titans), who now has 171 consecutive starts (through 11/6/11) dating back to his 2002 season at EWU. The third is cornerback Isaiah Trufant, who is back with the New York Jets -- a team he started his NFL career with in 2009. And tight end Nathan Overbay is now on the practice squad for the Detroit Lions.
After being waived by the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 30, Trufant flew home to the Seattle area, but was then signed by the Jets. Though he made New York’s initial 53-man roster after final cuts, he was waived Sept. 4 before being signed to the practice squad the following day. He was activated to the 53-man roster 24 hours before NBC’s Sunday night national telecast of New York’s season opener versus Dallas on Sept. 11. He had two tackles, and returned a blocked punt 18 yards for a touchdown that knotted the score at 24 with 5:08 left in the 27-24 Jets win. Trufant’s older brother, Marcus, plays for the Seattle Seahawks and his younger brother, Desmond, plays for Washington. Desmond had the victory-clinching interception in the end zone with 29 seconds left in EWU’s 30-27 loss to the Huskies.
The week prior to the EWU-Washington game on Sept. 3 was particularly tough for a pair of other former Eagles. Cornerback Jesse Hoffman was with the Seattle Seahawks before being cut on Aug. 29, just four days before Seattle hosted Jones and Oakland (and the night before Eastern played Washington). Overbay (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) was also cut that week, but was later assigned to the practice squad for the Detroit Lions.
Current Eastern professionals in the CFL include linebacker J.C. Sherritt (Edmonton Eskimos), who had 11 tackles in his regular season debut and has been among the league leaders in tackles as a rookie. He played in 16 of 18 regular season games for the Eskimos, and had 72 tackles to rank seventh in the CFL (he had 58 after 10 games to rank second at the time). He is teammates at Edmonton with quarterback Matt Nichols and defensive end Greg Peach, who won the Buck Buchanan Award for Eastern in 2008 – two years before Sherritt won the same award. Also in the CFL are veteran defensive lineman Dario Romero (Saskatchewan Roughriders) and veteran defensive back Ryan Phillips (British Columbia Lions), as well as linebacker Shea Emry (Montreal Alouettes).