February 15, 2012

Bo Levi Mitchell is Honored by Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters

Former Eastern quarterback is Amateur Male Athlete of the Year, an honor won only three times previously by Eastern athletes in the past 63 years

Walter Payton Award recipient Bo Levi Mitchell was honored as Amateur Male Athlete of the Year by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) in 2011 awards presented in conjunction with the annual Inland Northwest Sports Awards Luncheon in Spokane, Wash., on Feb. 15.

It was only the fourth time an Eastern Washington University athlete has been honored since the awards were first presented in 1948. The athletes previously honored were football player J.C. Sherritt (2010), basketball player Rodney Stuckey (2007) and football player Scott Garske (1973).

Mitchell is currently in Texas training for an opportunity to play professional football and was unable to attend the luncheon. Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin and quarterbacks coach Zak Hill accepted the award on Mitchell’s behalf.

“It’s such a great honor to be named the Inland Northwest Athlete of the Year,” said Mitchell. “It shows most of all how much time, effort and hard work that not only I have put in, but also my teammates and our coaches. Our coaches give up so much to be able to help athletes like myself to succeed individually and as a team. This award is huge to me because it provides more regional and national exposure to Eastern Washington University. I’m ecstatic and appreciate the honor a great deal.”

Mitchell capped his career by winning the prestigious Walter Payton Award, which is sponsored by Fathead.com and presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. He was also selected to nine different FCS All-America teams and was the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He played in the AstroTurf NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl in January 2012, completing 8-of-15 passes for 110 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

After playing two seasons at Southern Methodist University, Mitchell transferred to Eastern in January 2010 and led the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title his first season. The native of Katy, Texas, was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in EWU’s 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game.

Mitchell earned first team All-America accolades on teams selected by The Sports Network, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, Associated Press, Phil Steele Publications and Beyond Sports College Network. Also, Mitchell earned third team honors from collegesportsmadness.com, and honorable mention from The College Sporting News Fabulous Fifty and College Sports Journal

Along with fellow All-Americans Nicholas Edwards (wide receiver) and Chris Powers (center), in 2011 Eastern led FCS in passing yards per game (368.5) and ranked seventh overall in total offense (447.4). The Eagles won six of their last seven games to finish 6-5 after a 0-4 start. A year earlier, the Eagles finished with an 11-game winning streak and closed the year 13-2.

Mitchell also had the rare opportunity to play the 2011 season with his older brother Cory Mitchell, a freshman wide receiver who finished with 19 catches for 310 yards and a pair of scores.

Injuries and a difficult early-season schedule were the main factors in keeping the Eagles from repeating as national champions. A total of 14 starters – seven on each side of the ball -- suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup – including seven players lost for the season. Eastern’s offensive line was the hardest hit, as a total of 10 players started along the offensive line.

 
 

BO LEVI MITCHELL 2011 HONORS WON

POSTSEASON ALL-STAR GAME
AstroTurf NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl (8x15, 110 yards, 1 TD and 0 Int.)

NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Walter Payton Award from The Sports Network
Elite Quarterback Award from College Football Performance Awards

ALL-AMERICA AWARDS
American Football Coaches Association (first team)
The Sports Network (first team)
Associated Press (first team)
Walter Camp Football Foundation (first team)
Phil Steele Publications (first team)
Beyond Sports College Network (first team)
Collegesportsmadness.com (third team)
College Sporting News “Fabulous Fifty” (honorable mention)
College Sports Journal (honorable mention)

REGIONAL AWARDS
Amateur Male Athlete of the Year by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS)

BIG SKY CONFERENCE AWARDS
Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year
All-Big Sky Conference First Team

PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARDS

Big Sky Conference Player of the Week
Offense - QB Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. Cal Poly 11/12/11 - 34x50, 436 yards, 5 TD)
Offense - QB Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. UNC 10/15/11 - 28x39, 400 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)
Offense - QB Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. NAU 10/8/11 - 27x40, 356 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)

College Sports Madness Big Sky Conference Player of the Week
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. UNC 10/15/11 - 28x39, 400 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)

Beyond College Sports Network FCS Player of the Week (multiple chosen)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. Cal Poly 11/12/11 - 34x50, 436 yards, 5 TD)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. UNC 10/15/11 - 28x39, 400 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)

College Football Performance Awards (Honorable Mention)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. ISU 11/19/11 - 37x51, 397 yards, 4 TD)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. Cal Poly 11/12/11 - 34x50, 436 yards, 5 TD)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. PSU 10/29/11 - 20x42, 440 yards, 4 TD)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. UNC 10/15/11 - 28x39, 400 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. NAU 10/8/11 - 27x40, 356 yds, 3 TD, 0 int)
Quarterback - Bo Levi Mitchell (vs. UW 9/3/11 - 39x69, 472 yds, 3 TD, 2 int)

 

More on Bo Levi Mitchell

Bo Levi Mitchell capped a sensational two-year career for the Eagles by being selected as the winner of the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Fathead.com sponsors the prestigious award, which was presented for the 25th time by The Sports Network at the annual FCS Awards Banquet on Friday evening (Jan. 6) in Frisco, Texas. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mitchell became the fourth Eastern player in the last seven seasons to win either the Payton Award or the Buck Buchanan Award (top defensive player in FCS). Eastern’s Erik Meyer won the Payton Award in 2005, and Greg Peach (2008) and J.C. Sherritt (2010) have previously won the Buck Buchanan Award presented to the top defensive player in FCS. A total of seven players from the Big Sky Conference have now won the Payton Award.

After playing two seasons at Southern Methodist University, Mitchell transferred to Eastern in January 2010 and led the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title his first season. The native of Katy, Texas, was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in EWU’s 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game.

In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, which ranks 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history.

Mitchell was the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a first team All-BSC selection as a senior. That led to consensus first team All-America accolades, including first team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, The Sports Network, Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation, Phil Steele Publications and Beyond Sports College Network. He also received third team accolades from Collegesportsmadness.com and honorable mention on the College Sporting News “Fabulous Fifty,” and won the Elite Quarterback Award from College Football Performance Awards.

Eastern won six of its last seven games to finish 6-5 in the 2011 season, and Mitchell had a record-breaking season by passing for 4,009 yards and 33 touchdowns. He guided Eastern Washington to a 5-3 conference record despite the team suffering a myriad of key injuries early in the season and having a rushing offense that ranked 112th out of 120 teams in FCS.

The most successful quarterback in Eastern history, he directed the Eagles to a 19-7 mark in his two seasons at EWU (12-4 in the Big Sky). He had more wins in a two-year span than any other Eastern quarterback in school history – even more than Meyer, who won 16 combined in the 2004 and 2005 seasons and had the previous school record for passing with 4,004 yards.

The 19 wins in 2010 and 2011 combined are the most back-to-back in school history, so no quarterback has been as successful as Mitchell. Eastern has had six quarterbacks earn All-America honors – Meyer, Nichols, Josh Blankenship (2002), Harry Leons (1997), Rick Worman (1985) and Bill Diedrick Jr. (1967), and the most back-to-back wins were recorded by Leons (18 in 1996-97) and Diedrick (18 in 1966-67). In their best seasons, Meyer won 16 (2004-05), Worman won 16 (1984-85) and Nichols won 15 (2007-08). Blankenship played only one season after transferring from Tulsa.

As a junior in the 2010 season after transferring from Southern Methodist University in nearby Dallas, Mitchell helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Division I title with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware. He was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player after throwing three touchdown passes in the final 16:48 and had 302 total passing yards in the game.

 “I don’t think people realize that in two years he’s won 19 football games, which is more than any quarterback in the Big Sky right now and more than anybody in our history,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “He’s not only put up great numbers and can throw the ball well, but he’s proven himself as a winner. Eight different times we were down or tied in the fourth quarter, and he led us back to win. That says a lot.”

Mitchell is just the fourth Big Sky quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in 11 games, and the other three – Montana’s Dave Dickenson in 1995, Weber State’s Jamie Martin in 1991, and Idaho’s John Friesz in 1989 – went on to win the Payton Award. Mitchell’s average of 364.5 yards per game in the 2011 season ranks ninth in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision history and fourth all-time in the Big Sky.

Mitchell completed 318 of 503 passes (63.2 percent) for 4,009 yards with 33 touchdowns. Mitchell finished the 2011 regular season as the FCS leader in touchdown passes, total passing yards, passing yards per game, and total offense. Mitchell’s 318 completions in 2011 were a Big Sky single-season record, topping the previous mark of 311 set by Friesz in 1987.

Mitchell broke the single season school record of 4,003 yards that Erik Meyer had in 2005 when he won the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Finishing with 4,009, Mitchell's mark ranks 17th all-time in the FCS and is fifth in Big Sky history. Mitchell also established a new school record by averaging 364.5 passing yards per game, good for ninth in FCS history and third all-time in the Big Sky.

With a quartet of 400-yard passing performances in the 2011 season – and four more of at least 300 – Mitchell’s season average of 364.5 ranked ahead of the previous record set in 2005 by Meyer when he averaged 333.6 yards per game. Mitchell’s career average of 288.7 per outing is also a school record and ranks ahead of the 268.4 average of Matt Nichols (2006-09). Mitchell's career average ranks 19th all-time in the FCS and sixth in the Big Sky.

Despite playing just two seasons at Eastern, Mitchell ranks third in school history for career passing yards (7,505) and third in touchdown passes (70), and he is also third in completions (618), fourth in attempts (1008) and third in passing efficiency rating (141.2). He had 10 300-yard performances in his 26-game EWU career, including four of the 19 400-yard performances in school history.

“Bo had an amazing career here for what he was able to accomplish statistically and from a win-loss standpoint,” said Baldwin. “And throughout it all, he’s been a great leader and helped lead our program to a national championship. To have him even mentioned in the same breath as some of the great Eastern quarterbacks we’ve had here – including Payton Award winner Erik Meyer – would have been an incredible accomplishment in itself. In terms of winning the national title and leading us to 19 victories in two seasons, we’ve never had a quarterback more successful than Bo.”

After transferring from Southern Methodist University, Mitchell was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2010. He transferred to Eastern in January 2010, won the starting job in the spring and started his first game for the Eagles on Sept 2, 2010, versus Nevada. His 26th and final start came on Nov. 19, 2011.

“His development in just two years wasn’t easy and it took some time,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “He got better as the 2010 season went along, and we all expected that. A first-year starter is never going to be perfect at the start of the season, but you want to see serious progress. He worked at it and we saw the growth -- he worked hard to develop his skills and was tireless at studying video in order to better understand and operate our offense. It culminated with his production this season and the way our team ended the year with six wins in our last seven games. I couldn’t be more proud of what he accomplished here.”

 “In a lot of ways, he played much better this year than a year ago,” he added. “It was just that a lot of other parts of our team didn’t necessarily go as well. In terms of his growth of a quarterback, he made huge strides and really worked at it.”

 
 
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