Three Eagles receive second team honors from The Sports Network, bringing EWU’s All-America total to five thus far
Junior cornerback T.J. Lee has joined four other Eagles as All-Americans this season, with Lee earning second team honors Monday (Dec. 10) from The Sports Network.
Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman and kicker Jimmy Pavel were named to the Sports Network second team as well, and defensive end Jerry Ceja has also received All-America recognition previously this season. Last week, senior offensive tackle Will Post was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America first team.
Lee has piled up some impressive statistics in 2012, ranking second on the team with 83 tackles. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also has a team-leading 11 passes broken up, 2 1/2 sacks, eight total tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
In the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs against Illinois State on Dec. 8, Lee had eight tackles, a forced fumble and two passes broken up. Versus Portland State on Nov. 17, he had eight tackles (one for loss) and broke-up three passes.
A first team All-Big Sky selection a year ago, Lee now has 142 tackles, three interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 2 1/2 sacks in his 33-game career (19 starts).
Kaufman is on the cusp of a FCS record after breaking the Big Sky Conference record for single season receiving yards during EWU’s 51-35 victory over Illinois State. He finished with nine catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and his 17-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave EWU a 38-17 lead and broke the previous Big Sky record of 1,525 set by Weber State’s Tim Toone in 2008. Earlier in the game, Kaufman broke the school record of 1,453 set by Eric Kimble in 2004.
Kaufman’s current total of 1,635 yards ranks fifth in FCS history, just 77 yards from the record of 1,712 yards set in 1998 by Delaware’s Eddie Conti. This season, Kaufman has 84 catches (fourth in school history), 13 touchdowns (fourth in school history) and an average of 19.5 yards per catch (sixth in school history).
In his last three games, Kaufman has 28 catches for 526 yards (18.8 per catch). The first team All-Big Sky performer had career highs of 11 catches for 201 yards (fifth-most in school history) versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. He had 10 catches for 174 yards against Wagner on Dec. 1, and before that had nine catches for 161 yards against Portland State on Nov. 17 in which he had two sensational, highlight-reel catches after tipped balls.
Kaufman has gone over the 100-yard mark 10 times this season and 18 times in his career. He leads the Big Sky and ranks third in FCS in receiving yards per game (125.8). Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, now has 212 career catches (fifth in school history, ninth in Big Sky history) for 3,516 yards (third) and 30 touchdowns (third).
Pavel, a first team All-Big Sky pick, made a 20-yard field goal against Illinois State on Dec. 8 to earn sole possession of EWU’s single season school record with 17 for the season. His 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 equaled the record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. But because of Eastern’s offensive efficiency in ending drives with nine touchdowns, Pavel didn’t attempt a field goal in his next two games.
The Eagles have 18 as a team for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year. An impressive 17-of-18 on the season, Pavel ranks 18th in FCS with an average of 1.31 field goals per game. His .944 percentage is the best in FCS among kickers with at least 11 attempts this season.
Pavel, who handled kickoff duties a year ago, took over this season for Mike Jarrett, who made a school-record 16 field goals in just 18 attempts as a senior in 2011. Pavel missed his only attempt in the 2011 season, a 52-yarder. Thus, including a field goal Kevin Miller made earlier this season, the Eagles have made 34 of 38 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 89.5 percent. Pavel has also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the last three games, and currently has a 42.4 average on 17 punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
Besides the TSN and AFCA All-America teams, the College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com) squad included Kaufman (first team), Ceja (second team) and Pavel (third team). On the team selected by Beyond Sports College Network (bsncollege.com), Kaufman and Pavel were on the first team, and Post was on the second team. A year ago, there were nine All-America teams selected, including those by the AFCA, The Sports Network, Associated Press and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Others are College Sporting News, Phil Steele Publications, College Sports Journal, Beyond Sports College Network and College Sports Madness.