Eagles break 48 school records, 23 Big Sky Conference marks and 12 FCS records en route to 12-3 finish and perfect 8-0 run through the league
It started with a shocker, continued with a spotless conference season and ended with another stunning playoff run.
With the most prolific offense in school history, the Eastern Washington University football team rolled to a 12-3 record in the 2013 season, including the school’s first ever perfect 8-0 run through the Big Sky Conference. It was the fifth season in school history with 11 or more wins (joining the 2012, 2010, 1997 and 1967 squads), but the first in back-to-back seasons.
The Eagles have now won the league title seven times in school history and have made 10 appearances in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
The Eagles broke 48 school, 23 Big Sky and 12 FCS records during the 2013 season. Eastern, the 2010 NCAA Division I Champion, advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in the last four years in 2013. Eastern’s season came a game short of the title game, as Towson rallied for a 35-31 victory over EWU on Dec. 21, 2013, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern ranked third in the final regular season and season-ending polls, and was seeded third in the playoffs. But the season was made even more historic by the way it began.
Eastern’s 49-46 victory at No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, was just the fourth time since the division was created in 1978 that a FCS (formerly known as I-AA) team defeated a ranked FBS opponent. The other times that feat occurred came in 1983 (Cincinnati def. #20 Penn State 14-3), 2007 (Appalachian State def. #5 Michigan 34-32) and 2010 (James Madison def. #13 Virginia Tech 21-16).
It was the fourth time in school history EWU ended the season with a top four ranking. Eastern ended the 2010 season as the No. 1 team in FCS after winning the NCAA Division I title. In 1997 and 2012, Eastern finished fourth in The Sports Network poll as well as the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Top-seeded North Dakota State won its third-straight NCAA Division I Championship Game with a 35-7 victory over Towson on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.
“That says a lot,” Baldwin said of making another trip to the semifinals, where EWU is now 1-3 all-time (1997, 2010, 2012, 2013). “It is hard to do, and I am proud of everyone that is a part of it. To do something like that consistently you have to have a certain mindset, a certain attitude and a certain mentality. We have that in our locker room with our players, and it is exciting.”
Eastern finished the season ranked fourth in FCS in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8) and seventh in scoring (39.5). Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who was runner-up for the Payton Award given to the top player in FCS, finished second in the nation in total offense (373.3 per game), with school and Big Sky record totals of 5,559 yards of offense (second in FCS history), 4,994 passing yards (third) and 55 touchdown passes (third). His passing efficiency rating of 183.13 led the nation, ranks fourth all-time in FCS and broke EWU and Big Sky records.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp accounted for six FCS records, four school marks and one Big Sky record with a sensational debut season of 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was selected as the recipient of the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in FCS, and also was a unanimous first team All-America selection in FCS.
Other 2013 All-Americans were senior cornerback T.J. Lee III, senior center Ashton Miller and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin. Listed as a senior in the 2013 season, Hamlin has applied to the NCAA to receive his sixth year because of two previous seasons wiped out because of injuries. Defensive end Samson Ebukam joined Kupp as a Freshman All-America selection.
Eastern scored a Big Sky and school-record 592 points in 2013, and out-scored opponents by a 41-24 average score during its 10-game winning streak that ended in the loss to Towson. The season included an incredible 158-17 advantage in the third quarter in EWU’s last 11 games of the season. Besides the Towson loss, the only other losses for EWU were 49-34 at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28 and 33-21 to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe Toledo.
Eastern has had seven playoff berths in a 10-year span (2004-13), ranking the Eagles as one of only four schools among 122 in FCS to accomplish that feat. The others are Montana, New Hampshire and Appalachian State. New Hampshire, North Dakota State and Appalachian State join the Eagles as the only teams to have qualified in four of the last five years. Eastern joins NDSU and Georgia Southern as the only schools that have advanced to the semifinals in three of the last four seasons.
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EAGLE NATIONAL AWARD WINNERS AT A GLANCE
Vernon Adams Jr., Quarterback, Sophomore – CFPA National Performer of the Year & Walter Payton Award Runner-Up
- Adams was selected as the FCS National Performer of the Year by College Football Performance Awards, and was also the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. He received first team All-America honors from College Sporting News (“Fabulous 50”) and Beyond Sports Network, as well as second team accolades from The Sports Network, Associated Press and College Sports Madness.
- Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year and one of two unanimous first team All-BSC selections (the other was teammate Cooper Kupp as both received first-team votes on all 12 ballots as selected by the league’s head coaches).
- His average of 9.0 yards per offensive play and 10.28 yards per passing attempt were FCS records, as well as his 11 games of 300 yards or more of total offense and 10 outings with at least 300 passing yards. In all, he established 15 school records, six Big Sky Conference marks and six FCS records.
- Led the nation in pass efficiency at 183.13 and set a Big Sky single-season record (currently fourth all-time in FCS history).
- Had a Big Sky and school-record 55 touchdown passes to lead the nation and rank third all-time in FCS.
- Second in the nation with an average of 373.3 yards of total offense per game with a Big Sky and school record total of 5,559 yards second in FCS history). His 4,994 yards were also EWU and league records while ranking third all-time in FCS.
- One of four FCS QBs in history to engineer an upset of a top 25 FBS team. Amassed 411 passing yards and four TDs, 107 rush yards and 2 TDs in an upset of Oregon State.
- Led team to Big Sky Championship with the school’s first ever 8-0 league record and final No. 3 national ranking. Eastern’s only losses were to FBS Toledo and playoff teams Towson and Sam Houston State. Eastern finished 6-2 versus ranked opponents.
- Twice earned Sports Network National Offensive Player of the Week honors after Oregon State and Montana State wins.
Cooper Kupp, Wide Receiver, Freshman – Jerry Rice Award Winner & CFPA Wide Receiver Award
- Was a runaway winner of the Jerry Rice Award, presented by The Sports Network to the top freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. He also won the FCS Wide Receiver Award presented by the College Football Performance Awards.
- He was a first team selection on The Sports Network All-America team -- one of only five freshmen in FCS to earn first team honors since 1990 and the second wide receiver (Randy Moss 1996). Was also a first team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association (the only freshman or sophomore on the squad), College Sporting News (“Fabulous 50”), the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Beyond Sports Network and College Sports Madness, which also selected Kupp as its FCS Freshman of the Year. In addition, he was the Freshman of the Year as a member of the College Sports Journal All-Freshman Team.
- Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year and one of two unanimous first team All-BSC selections (the other was teammate Vernon Adams as both received first-team votes on all 12 ballots as selected by the league’s head coaches).
- The redshirt freshman broke the FCS all-time record for receptions, yards and touchdowns by a freshman with totals of 93 catches, 1,691 yards and 21 TDs (previously held by Randy Moss). His yardage is fourth overall in FCS history and his TD catches are also fourth.
- His 112.7 average per game led all Big Sky receivers and ranked fifth in the nation.
- Broke the all-time FCS record with a TD catch in 14 consecutive games. He caught two TD passes in seven games and one in the other seven games of the first 14 games of his collegiate career. The previous record was 11, and one of the former record holders was Randy Moss.
- Had eight 100-yard receiving games, including a 205-yard game, with at least eight catches and 100 yards in seven of his last nine games.
- Twice earned Sports Network FCS Freshman of the Week honors after Montana and Cal Poly wins.
- Combined with second team All-Big Sky wide receiver Ashton Clark for the FCS record for combined receiving yards by two players with a total of 2,924 (Kupp 1,691 and Clark 1,233).
- Kupp set a total of six FCS records in his debut season, as well as four school marks and a Big Sky record. The Big Sky record he broke was the 45-year-old record of 20 TD catches set by Ed Bell from Idaho State in 1969.
- Was one of three Eastern receivers to earn All-Big Sky honors, joining second team selection Ashton Clark and honorable mention recipient Shaq Hill. Clark finished with 83 catches for 1,233 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Hill had 38 grabs for 790 yards and nine scores. Hill averaged 20.8 yards per catch, including TD receptions of 86, 76, 68, 68, 54 and 44 yards.
- The Eagles ended their season 12-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs for the second-straight year. Kupp set six FCS records in his debut season, as well as four school marks and a Big Sky record. In all, the Eagles broke 48 school, 23 Big Sky and 12 FCS records during the 2013 season.
Ronnie Hamlin, Linebacker, Senior – Buck Buchanan Award Candidate (12th in the Voting)
- College Sports Madness Second Team All-America linebacker.
- Second team All-Big Sky Conference selection led the nation’s third-ranked team with 140 total tackles to rank fourth in school history.
- Picked off two passes with 77 return yards and one touchdown.
- Registered at least 10 tackles in eight games (17 in career).
- Currently third all-time at EWU with 361 career total tackles.
- Earned first team All-Big Sky and All-America honors in 2012.
- Will appeal to the NCAA in the offseason to receive a sixth year to replace two years wiped out because of injuries.
Beau Baldwin, Head Coach – Eddie Robinson Award Candidate (6th in the voting)
- Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year for the second-straight season as selected by his fellow head coaches in the league.
- After six seasons at EWU, he currently ranks fifth in Big Sky history in winning percentage in league games (38-10, .792) and is eighth overall (56-22, .718).
- Led EWU to its third Big Sky title in four seasons with an 8-0 conference mark, and a 12-3 overall record.
- Became one of four coaches in FCS history to lead his team to a win over a ranked FBS team when his Eagles topped No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 to open the season.
- EWU’s season included wins over six teams who were ranked in the FCS polls in the 2013 season – Montana, Montana State, Cal Poly, Southern Utah, South Dakota State and Jacksonville State. All but Cal Poly ended the season ranked in the top 25.
- EWU’s only losses came to FBS Toledo and two-time FCS runner-up Sam Houston State, which was ranked fourth in FCS at the time. Both losses came on the road.
- Baldwin’s Eagles ranked first in FCS in pass efficiency (182.55), fourth in passing offense (349.8) and fourth in total offense (533.5).
- In his six years as Eastern’s head coach (including 2013), the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense five times and total offense three seasons. In EWU’s last 10 seasons (2004-2013), including nine with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing eight times and total offense on six occasions.
T.J. Lee III, Cornerback, Senior – All-American
- Selected as a first team All-America cornerback by the American Football Coaches Association, College Sporting News (“Fabulous 50”), College Sports Madness and Beyond Sports Network, and a second team choice by the Associated Press and The Sports Network.
- Only the third player in school history and 45th in the 50-year-old Big Sky Conference to win first team All-Big Sky Conference honors three times.
- Had 114 tackles in the 2013 season to rank 14th in school history and his 11 passes broken up were 10th.
- Lee is in sole possession of the school record for career forced fumbles with seven and had a school-record four in the 2013 season to rank 27th in FCS in average per game (0.27). He finished third nationally in fumble recoveries per game with a total of four.
- Lee finished his career with 263 tackles to rank 11th in school history, and is one of only 35 Eagles in school history to finish with more than 200. He also had four interceptions, 25 passes broken up (sixth in school history) and 3 1/2 sacks in his 49-game career (35 starts).
- Lee earned All-America honors in 2012 from The Sports Network (second team), and was also honored on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America squad.
Ashton Miller, Center, Senior – All-American
- Received All-America recognition by four organizations – first team honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press and Beyond Sports Network; and second team accolades by College Sports Madness.
- First team All-Big Sky Conference center and one of four team co-captains.
- Started 30 of 33 career games for the Eagles.
- Helped Eastern set Big Sky and school records with 592 points, 83 touchdowns and 8,002 yards of offense in the 2013 season. As a team, EWU led FCS in passing efficiency (school record 182.6), and fourth in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8), 41st in rushing (183.7) and seventh in scoring (39.5).
Season Milestones & Records
Vernon Adams Passing Efficiency (183.13/66%, 4,994 yards, 55 TD, 15 Int.) . . . Adams ranks fourth in FCS history, and broke the Big Sky record (175.2, Doug Nussmeier, Idaho, 1993/61%, 2,690 yards, 33 TD, 5 Int.) and the EWU mark (171.4, Erik Meyer, 2004/68%, 3,707 yards, 31 TD, 9 Int.).
Vernon Adams TD Passes (55) . . . His 55 touchdowns are third all-time in FCS, ranking behind the record of 56 shared by Willie Totten (Mississippi Valley 1984) and Bruce Eugene (Grambling 2005). Adams shattered the Big Sky single season record of 42 TD passes set by Brian Ah Yat of Montana in 1996 and the school record of 37 set by Bo Levi Mitchell in 2010.
Vernon Adams Total Offense (5,559) . . . Adams finished second in FCS history behind Steve McNair from Alcorn (5,799 in 1994). Adams previously broke the Big Sky record of 4,400 set by Cameron Higgins of Weber State in 2008 and the school record of 4,224 yards set by Erik Meyer in 2005.
Vernon Adams Passing Yards (4,994) . . . Adams finished third all-time in FCS behind the Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois (5,050 by 2013) and Taylor Heinicke of Old Dominion (5,076 in 2012). Adams broke the Big Sky Conference record of 4,477 (Cameron Higgins, Weber State, 2008) and the previous school record of 4,009 (Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011).
Vernon Adams Rushing Yards (605) . . . Ranking second on the team with 605 yards, Adams broke the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback of 392 set by Matt Nichols in 2007.
Cooper Kupp Receiving Touchdowns (21) . . . Kupp’s 21 TD catches were tied for fourth in FCS history, (21, John Matthews, San Diego 2008), two from third (23, Rob Giancola, Valparaiso, 2003) and three from second (24, David Ball, New Hampshire, 2005). The record is 27 set by Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley in 1984. Kupp broke the 45-year-old Big Sky record (20, Ed Bell, Idaho State, 1969), the school record (19 shared by Nicholas Edwards, 2011, and Eric Kimble, 2004) and the FCS record for most touchdowns by a freshman (19, Randy Moss, Marshall, 1996). With a touchdown reception in the first 14 games he played in his EWU career, hebroke the record of 11 consecutive games with a TD catch previously held by Randy Moss from Marshall in 1996 and Cal Poly’s Ramses Barden in 2008 (EWU’s Brandon Kaufman is incorrectly listed in the NCAA record book).
Cooper Kupp Receiving Yards (1,691) . . . Kupp finished fourth in FCS history, with the record of 1,850 set by Eastern’s Brandon Kaufman in 2013. Kupp owns the FCS record for receiving yards by a freshman, which was previously 1,196 yards by Sean Price of Appalachian State in 2012. He finished second in school history behind Kaufman.
Cooper Kupp Receptions (93) . . . Kupp broke the FCS record for receptions by a freshman (81, Sean Price, Appalachian State, 2012). He finished the season ranked fifth in Big Sky history, and second all-time at EWU behind the school record of 95 set by Nicholas Edwards in 2011.
Quincy Forte Rushing Yards (1,208) . . . Forte owns one of the 16 1,000-yard seasons in school history, and finished the season with the eighth-best total. Eastern has now had a 1,000-yard rusher in 12 of the last 19 seasons (1995-2013), and Forte is the first since Taiwan Jones had 1,742 in 2010.
Individual Tackles . . . Three Eagles all finished with over 100 tackles to rank in the top 14 in school history. Ronnie Hamlin had 140 (fourth), Cody McCarthy finished with 115 (13th) and T.J. Lee III had 114 (14th).
Kevin Miller Extra Points (74-of-79) . . . With 74 extra points in 79 attempts in the 2013 season, Miller broke school records in both categories previously held by Josh Atwood in 1997 (58-of-61) and Big Sky Conference records previously held by Mike Hollis from Idaho in 1993 (68-of-68).
Team Scoring (592) . . . Eastern broke the Big Sky record of 537 set by Montana in 2009 and the school record of 488 set in 2004.
Team Touchdowns (83) . . . EWU broke the Big Sky record of 72 set by Idaho in 1993 and the school record of 67 set in 2004.
Team Total Offense (8,002) . . . EWU broke the Big Sky and school records of 6,735 yards set in 1997.
Team Passing (5,247) . . . EWU broke the Big Sky record of 4,540 set by Weber State in 2008 and the school record of 4,469 yards set in 2012.
Team TD Passes (58) . . . EWU has shattered the school record of 38 set in 2010 and the Big Sky record of 43 set by Montana in 1996. There is no FCS record for overall touchdown passes, but the record for passing TDs per game is 6.4 set by Mississippi Valley in 1984 (64 in 10 games).
Team Passing Efficiency (182.55/65.6%, 5,247 yards, 58 TD, 15 Int.) . . . The Eagles broke the school record of 162.3 set in 2004 (65%, 3,784 yards, 31 TD, 11 Int.). There is no Big Sky record, but the FCS mark is 197.3 set in 2007 by San Diego (68%, 3,270 yards, 48 TD, 2 Int.). Eastern also broke the school record for completion percentage of 65.5 percent set in 2004.
Vernon Adams Passing Efficiency (176.3/64%, 6,955 yards, 75 TD, 23 Int.) . . . Adams currently ranks just behind the FCS record (176.7, Josh Johnson, San Diego, 2004-07/68%, 9,699 yards, 113 TD, 15 Int.). His mark also ranks ahead of the former FCS record holder (now No. 2), which are also the Big Sky and EWU records (166.5, Erik Meyer, 2002-05/66%, 10,261 yards, 84 TD, 17 Int.).
Vernon Adams TD Passes (75) . . . Already third in school history, he is nine from moving into second (84, Erik Meyer, 2002-05). The school record is 96 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is second in Big Sky history and 14th all-time in FCS.
Vernon Adams Passing Yards (6,955 yards) . . . Already fifth in school history, he is just 537 yards from moving into fourth (7,492, Mark Tenneson, 1989-92). The school record is 12,616 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is the Big Sky record and eighth all-time in FCS.
Vernon Adams Total Offense (7,443 yards) . . . Already fourth in school history, he is 104 yards from moving into third (7,547, Bo Levi Mitchell, 2010-11). The school record is 13,308 (Matt Nichols, 2006-09), which is the Big Sky record and ranks sixth all-time in FCS.
Vernon Adams Rushing Yards (947) . . . Adams broke the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback of 692 set by Matt Nichols from 2006-09.
Ronnie Hamlin Tackles (361) . . . Listed as a senior but hopeful to receive a sixth year in 2014, Hamlin is third in school history with a current total of 361 tackles. The only players ahead of him are Greg Belzer (399 from 1997-00) and J.C. Sherritt (432 from 2007-10), who is third in Big Sky history and ranks 15th in FCS history.
T.J. Lee Tackles (263) . . . He finished his career 11th in school history.
Games Played (52) . . . Senior kicker Kevin Miller is one of five players who broke the school record with 52 career games played. The others were Allen Brown, Brandon Murphy, Will Katoa and Bo Schuetzle. They broke the record previously held by Paul Ena (2009-12), Tyler Washburn (2009-12) and Matt Martin (2007-10). Miller is the only player in school history who has been in the playoffs all four years he has played (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013) – he redshirted in 2011 when EWU missed the playoffs with a 6-5 record.
* Ranked for the 29th-consecutive time, Eastern finished third in The Sports Network Top 25 FCS Poll released for the final time on Jan. 6 at the conclusion of the 2013 postseason. Eastern finished only behind top-ranked and three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State and FCS runner-up Towson. Eastern was also third in the final FCS Coaches Poll of the year. The 2013 season was the 11th time Eastern has finished the season nationally ranked, including seven times since 2004. The other seasons were in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
* Eastern finished 5-2 versus teams ranked in the final top 25 poll by The Sports Network. Eastern had regular season Big Sky victories over No. 8 Montana, No. 20 Montana State and No. 21 Southern Utah, and fell in a non-conference game at No. 14 Sam Houston State. In the FCS Playoffs, Eastern defeated No. 13 South Dakota State (41-17) and No. 10 Jacksonville State (35-24), but fell to No. 2 Towson in the semifinals (35-31). The semifinal win helped the Tigers catapult from fifth to second in the final poll, while Jacksonville State jumped 10 spots to 10th in the final poll with its quarterfinal appearance. Eastern did not play Northern Arizona, which finished 15th in the final TSN poll.
* The Eagles finished with a 179-53 advantage in the third quarter in the 2013 season, including a dominating 130-9 margin in the last eight games. In those eight games, EWU allowed only third-quarter field goals to Idaho State on Nov. 2, South Dakota State on Dec. 7 and Jacksonville State on Dec. 14. Eastern didn’t allow a third-quarter touchdown since Oct. 12 versus North Dakota. During EWU’s 10-game winning streak that ended in the loss to Towson, the Eagles had a 158-17 advantage in the third. Eastern outscored its opponent in the third quarter in 12 of 15 games, including the last 11.
* In November and beyond, Eastern is now 19-2 since 2010 and 28-5 since 2007. Since 2010, EWU is 35-4 after Oct. 1, including an 11-0 mark two years ago, 6-1 in 2011, 8-2 in 2012 and 10-1 in 2013. The lone losses were a 43-26 home loss in 2011 versus Portland State, a 30-27 road setback at Southern Utah on Oct. 27, 2012 and losses in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs in 2012 to Sam Houston State by a 45-42 score and in 2013 to Towson 35-31.
* EWU was 11-0 when leading (9-0) or tied (2-0) at halftime. The Eagles finished 12-1 when leading (11-1) or tied (1-0) after three quarters, and were 10-1 when leading (6-1) or tied (4-0) after the first quarter.
* Eastern had scored a touchdown in 10-straight quarters until getting shut-out in the first quarter against Towson, and in 49 of 60 quarters overall in the 2013 season.
* EWU is the second team in league history to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000 yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers. In 1991, Weber State’s Jamie Martin threw for 4,125 yards, Geoff Mitchell rushed for 1,170, Alfred Pupunu had 1,204 receiving yards and Dave Hall had 1,043 receiving yards.
* Eastern outscored opponents 295-224 in the first half (140-94 in the first quarter) and had a 297-200 scoring edge in the second half. Eastern out-scored opponents 65-20 in the second half in three playoff games.
* Eastern had nine performances in the 2013 season of 500 or more yards, with five ranking in the top 22 in school history. Eastern had a school-record 743 yards of offense in EWU’s 55-34 victory over Idaho State Nov. 2, with 432 through the air and 311 on the ground.
* During its 10-game winning streak, Eastern outscored its opponents by a 414-247 margin – a 41-24 average score. Before falling to Towson in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, the only other losses for EWU were 49-34 at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28 and 33-21 to NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe Toledo on Sept. 14.
* The Eagles are now 24-4 all-time on the red turf at Roos Field since 2010 when the stadium was renamed to Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field). Eastern avenged its first-ever loss at “The Inferno” with a 54-29 victory for the third-ranked Eagles over fourth-ranked Montana State on Nov. 9, 2013. Montana State handily defeated the Eagles 36-21 in Cheney in 2011, and the only other losses on the red turf were a 43-26 loss to Portland State on Oct. 29, 2011 (avenged 42-41 on Nov. 23, 2013), and setbacks in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs by a 45-42 score against Sam Houston State in on Dec, 15, 2012, and 35-31 versus Towson on Dec. 21, 2013. Eastern was 8-0 at home during the debut year when EWU won the NCAA Division I title, 2-2 in 2011, 7-1 in 2012 and 7-1 in 2013.
* Eastern was 5-0 in 2013 when it won the turnover battle, and 7-1 when it won the battle or was tied. South Dakota State, which had two turnovers to EWU’s one, entered the game fourth in FCS in turnover margin, with 32 turnovers forced in the 2013 season and 16 lost. The Eagles lost the turnover battle versus Jacksonville State 3-2 and to Towson 2-1.
* A crowd of 6,127 hearty souls attended the EWU-SDSU game, with a temperature of 12 degrees to shatter Eastern’s record for coldest temperature at kickoff. The previous coldest game in recorded school history was 28 degrees on Dec. 6, 1997, versus Youngstown State in the FCS Playoffs in Spokane, and 28 in a Big Sky Conference game at Montana on Nov. 15, 2003. It was a balmy 37 degrees in Eastern’s game against Jacksonville State one week later and 21 for an 11 a.m. Pacific time start in the semifinals on Dec. 21.
* The Eagles were 12-3 overall in 2013 after finishing a perfect 8-0 in Big Sky Conference play for the first time in school history. Only four other times in 105 years of football at Eastern has the school eclipsed the 10 victory mark (13 in 2010, 12 in 1997, 11 in 2012 and 1967). Eastern finished the regular season ranked third in The Sports Network FCS Top-25 Poll for the sixth-straight week, then ended the postseason ranked third as well.
* The Eagles became the first Big Sky team to finish the league season undefeated and win the outright league title since Montana did it in 2009. The Grizzlies were the only team to win the outright league title since 1997, having accomplished that feat in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2007 and 2009. Eastern won the title in 1997 with a 7-1 record. Eastern was the first non-Montana school to finish unbeaten since 1991 when Nevada was 8-0.
* Eastern has won seven Big Sky Conference titles in school history, with titles in 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Winning three titles in the last four years is unprecedented in school history. Moreover, the Eagles made their 10th playoff appearance, including seven in the last 10 seasons (1985, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013).
* Reaching a milestone and equaling a school record against Montana on Oct 26, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is now 56-22 in six seasons as a head coach (2008-13) and 38-10 in Big Sky Conference games. His .792 winning percentage in league games is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks fifth in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference. His 38 Big Sky victories are a school record, four better than the EWU head coach he previously served under, Paul Wulff (2000-2007). Baldwin’s .718 percentage overall is now eighth in league history. He won his 50th game overall and equaled Wulff’s record for league victories in the 42-37 victory over the Grizzlies.
* Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin concluded his sixth season at the helm, and for the second-straight season was selected as one of 20 coaches on the voting list for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the national coach of the year in FCS. He finished fifth in the voting in 2012 and sixth in 2013, and was also the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year both seasons. Baldwin has now been a part of five Big Sky Conference championships as either an Eastern assistant coach (2004, 2005) or head coach (2010, 2012, 2013). In addition, he has been a part of six FCS Playoff berths – two as an assistant (2004, 2005) and four in six seasons as head coach (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013). In receiving the Big Sky Coach of the Year honor for the first time in 2012 and repeating in 2013, Baldwin is the fourth coach in school history to win the award. His predecessor, Paul Wulff, won in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Current Idaho State head coach Mike Kramer won in 1997 and Dick Zornes was Eastern’s first in 1992. Baldwin coached in his 100th Eastern game when the Eagles rallied to beat Montana 32-26 in the 2012 season.
* As a team in 2013, EWU led FCS in passing efficiency (182.55), and was fourth in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8), 41st in rushing (183.7) and seventh in scoring (39.5). Defensively, EWU was 104th in total defense (457.7), 74th in rushing (180.7), 115th in passing (277.1) and 73rd in scoring (28.3). In addition, the Eagles finished 10th in third-down conversions (48.1 percent), second in passing yards per completion (15.5) and 14th in pass completion percentage (65.6 percent).
* Eastern averaged 5.3 yards per rushing attempt after averaging just 3.7 a year ago and 3.0 in 2011. Eastern’s average is the school’s best since 2001 when the Eagles averaged 6.4 after Jesse Chatman finished the year with 2,096 yards and 7.4 yards per rush. Taiwan Jones averaged 7.9 in 2010 and 7.7 in his career, but even during EWU’s National Championship season in 2010 the Eagles averaged 4.8 per rush as a team. In the 2013 season, Quincy Forte averaged 6.7 yards per rush and Mario Brown averaged 6.3. Forte averaged just 4.7 as a sophomore and 5.0 as a freshman.
* The Eagles won their 100th game in 30 seasons as a member of FCS when they defeated South Dakota State on Dec. 7, and EWU is now 201-143-2 record (.584) since joining FCS in 1984. The Eagles also registered their 500th victory all-time in the 2013 season. Having completed its 105th year of football, Eastern is 505-402-23 (.555) in 930 games. Eastern’s game at North Dakota on Oct. 12 was Eastern’s 200th Big Sky Conference game since joining the league in 1987. As the Big Sky celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, the Eagles concluded their 27th year as a member and have a current record of 121-85 (.587).
* The Eagles won two nailbiters in 2013, and have now won 13 games since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. In 2013, Eastern won 49-46 over 25th-ranked Oregon State by scoring the winning points with 18 seconds left after a 75-yard drive. The Eagles ended the regular season by driving 74 yards in just 29 seconds to score the game-winning TD with 31 seconds remaining versus Portland State. Eastern won three nailbiters in 2012 (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis), two in 2011 and six in the 2010 national title season.
* Eastern’s 49-46 victory at No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, was just the fourth time since the division was created in 1978 that a FCS (formerly known as I-AA) team defeated a ranked FBS opponent. The other times that feat occurred came in 1983 (Cincinnati def. #20 Penn State 14-3), 2007 (Appalachian State def. #5 Michigan 34-32) and 2010 (James Madison def. #13 Virginia Tech 21-16).
Player Fast Facts
* Ronnie Hamlin had 10 tackles or more in eight games in 2013, including the last five games of the season. He injured his shoulder in the first half against Jacksonville State on Dec. 14 and wasn’t expected back, but started the second half and finished with the second-most tackles in his career with 15. He now has 17 performances in his career with at least 10 tackles. He has 361 tackles in his career to move into third in school history, and his 140 tackles in 2013 ranks fourth in all-time at EWU.
* With a career-high 181 receiving yards versus Jacksonville State, Ashton Clark had his first 100-yard game since North Dakota on Oct. 12. His 11 receptions tied his career high set as a junior versus Southern Utah, which ranks 12th in school history. He closed his career with eight catches for 129 yards against Towson on Dec. 21, giving him five 100-yard games in his career.
* Junior running back Quincy Forte wears the same jersey number – 22 -- as former Eagle Taiwan Jones (now with the Oakland Raiders), and he put up some Jones-like numbers in the 2013 FCS Playoffs. With 202 yards and a touchdown in EWU’s 41-17 win over South Dakota State, Forte had the 25th performance in school history with 200 rushing yards or more, and shattered his previous career high of 123 set earlier in the 2013 season. His performance was the best by an Eagle since Jones had 230 versus North Dakota State in the 2010 FCS Playoffs. He followed that with 190 yards against Jacksonville State and 77 against Towson, giving Forte 1,208 yards on the season to rank eighth in school history. Eastern has now had a 1,000-yard rusher in 12 of the last 19 seasons (1995-2013), and the first since Jones had 1,742 in 2010. Forte’s previous best back-to-back games came in early November when he had 123 and two touchdowns against Montana State on Nov. 9, and one game earlier he had 119 rushing yards on just six carries (19.8 per rush) versus Idaho State. He had an 83-yard touchdown versus ISU that ranks as the ninth-longest rush in school history, and the longest since Jones had a school-record 96-yarder at Idaho State on Oct. 3, 2009.
* Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year and Jerry Rice Award winner Cooper Kupp had eight or more catches seven times, and at least 100 yards on eight occasions. His 205 yards against Idaho State rank as the sixth-most all-time at EWU. He earned Freshman of the Week honors from The Sports Network twice in the 2013 season, and eventually was the runaway winner of the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in FCS.
* With at least one TD reception in the first 14 games of his career, redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp had 21 TD catches in 2013 to lead FCS. He finished with 93 catches – a TD for every 4.4 catches so far – and averaged 18.2 yards per catch (93-1691). He had 11 receptions of 40 yards are more, including six for scores. He was fifth in FCS and tops among freshmen in receiving yards per game (112.7), first in total receiving yards and 25th in receptions per game (6.2).
* Vernon Adams finished the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in passing efficiency in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (183.13), which set school and Big Sky records while ranking fourth all-time in FCS. He had a 65.6 percent completion rate (319-of-486 to rank 15th in FCS), 4,994 yards (second), 55 touchdowns (first) and 15 interceptions for the season. Adams was third in FCS in points responsible for with an average of 23.9 per game (total of 356 to lead FCS, with 55 TD passes, four rushing touchdowns and one two-point conversion). He was also second in FCS in total offense per game (373.3), fourth in passing yards per game (332.9 per game) and third in passing yards per completion (15.66). He had 55 touchdown passes in the 2013 season to lead FCS and come just one from the record of 56 shared by two players.
* Adams had a season-low 12 completions, but five of them were for touchdowns in EWU’s 41-17 win over South Dakota State. He also had his second-fewest attempts with 22, but TD passes of 69 and 40 yards helped him to a 217-yard passing game (also second-lowest), to go along with 27 on the ground. His efficiency rating in the game was 212.4 – his fourth-best performance of the season.
* Adams completed his first 10 passes and finished 16-of-18 for 300 yards, no interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 302.2 against Montana State on Nov. 9. He nearly broke the school record of 310.4 set by Eastern’s Mark Tenneson versus Sonoma State in 1992 (10-of-14/71 percent, 265 yards, 4 TDs, 0 Int.), a Big Sky record which was broken earlier in the 2013 season by Montana’s Jordan Johnson (322.3). For his efforts, Adams earned national offensive player of the week accolades for the third time in the 2013 season, including two from The Sports Network. One game earlier, Adams passed for 432 yards and five touchdowns in a 55-34 win over Idaho State on Nov. 2 and he had the fifth-best performance in school history one week earlier with 457 against Montana. He matched the 457-yard effort against Portland State on Nov. 23, finishing with career highs of 34 completions and 54 attempts to earn Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in 2013 and sixth time in his career.
* In other individual national rankings, senior receiver Ashton Clark was 32nd in receiving yards (82.2 per game, with a total of 1,233 to rank sixth) and 40th in receptions (5.5 per game, with a total of 83). Sophomore Shaq Hill was 69th in all-purpose yards per game (106.2, with totals of 790 receiving, 634 on kickoff returns and 2 rushing). Senior cornerback T.J. Lee, who finished in sole possession of the school record for career forced fumbles with seven, had a school-record four to rank 27th in FCS in average per game (0.27). He also was third in fumble recoveries with a total of four. Jake Miller was 18th in FCS in average per punt (42.8).
* Now 20-4 as a starter at EWU, Vernon Adams has had 30 pass completions already in his career of at least 40 yards, including 20 for touchdowns. All but four of those came in the 2013 season, including completions against Jacksonville State in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs of 43 yards to Cooper Kupp and 41 yards to Ashton Clark (TD). For the second-straight year, “Big Play V.A.” was a finalist for Geico Play of the Year for his game-winning touchdown run versus Oregon State.
* Eastern sophomore wide receiver/kickoff returner Shaquille Hill has 11 plays of at least 40 yards in his young career, including kickoff returns of 99, 93, 80, 53 and 41 yards. He has also been involved in long pass plays of 86, 76, 68, 58, 54 and 44 yards, including five from sophomore quarterback Vernon “Big Play V.A.” Adams. Included were TD receptions of 68 and 76 yards against Montana State, and an 86-yard TD catch versus Montana. All three rank in the top 50 in school history. He had a non-scoring kickoff return of 80 yards against Idaho State on Nov. 2 and later scored on a 44-yard pass as he finished the game with 144 all-purpose yards on just three touches (two kickoff returns and one reception) for an average of nearly 50 yards per touch. One game earlier versus Montana, Hill had an 86-yard TD catch to rank as the eighth-longest in school history.
* Former Eagle Quarterback Matt Nichols, who wore jersey No. 16 and whose top single season passing yardage (3,830) and total offense marks (4,136) were obliterated by Vernon Adams (4,994 passing, 5,599 total offense) joked before the season about a jersey number change for Eastern’s current QB: “Vernon Adams should not have moved from No. 16 to No. 3 – that’s the only bad move he’s made so far.”
* Senior kicker Kevin Miller is one of five players who played in 52 career games to break the school record. The others are Allen Brown, Brandon Murphy, Will Katoa and Bo Schuetzle. Miller is the only player in school history who has been in the playoffs all four years he has played (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013) – he redshirted in 2011 when EWU missed the playoffs with a 6-5 record. With 74 extra points in 79 attempts in 2013, Miller broke school records in both categories previously held by Josh Atwood in 1997 (58-of-61) and Big Sky Conference records previously held by Mike Hollis from Idaho in 1993 (68-of-68). Miller made all six of his extra point attempts versus Portland State on Nov. 23, including a pressure-packed boot with 31 seconds left against a team that had blocked seven kicks in the 2013 season to that point. Miller also averaged 64.3 yards on seven kickoffs with a pair of touchbacks. Portland State averaged just 19.2 yards on its five returns.
Cooper Kupp Given Jerry Rice Award as Top Freshman in FCS
Bursting onto the scene with the best season by a freshman wide receiver in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision history, Cooper Kupp was selected by The Sports Network as the recipient of the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in FCS football.
The award was presented Dec. 16 at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia. Voting for the awards, conducted by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries, is based on the regular season. The Jerry Rice Award is named for legendary NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State.
“It’s a great honor to receive an award named after the best receiver of all-time,” said Kupp. “I want to thank my teammates and coaches for pushing me to be better every day. And I want to thank The Sports Network and FCS for making this possible.”
Kupp, a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., earned unanimous first team All-America honors for a season that included 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. All three are FCS records for a freshman, and his streak of 14 games with a touchdown catch was an overall FCS record.
“It has been a special season,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “He spends time in the film room like a quarterback. You have to kick him out of the weight room and make sure he stays balanced as a human because of the passion he has for football.
“He is one of those guys that if he is not watching film he is catching tennis balls with the tennis ball machine in the offseason when you are not allowed to use footballs,” continued Baldwin, who was on the voting list for the Robinson award. “He always is doing things to be better. Everyone comes here with talent to play football, but he maximizes it. He maximizes it to a level that is different from any freshman I have seen.”
“I congratulate Cooper for winning this award,” said Eastern sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams, who passed for 55 touchdown passes in 2013 – 21 to his new target. “It’s a great honor for our entire team. He’s worked hard for it and deserves to be recognized as the best freshman in FCS.”
Kupp spent part of the summer in 2013 working at the Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. While in high school he previously attended the camp, which is run by Archie Manning, the father of NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning. Archie is a former New Orleans Saints teammate of Cooper’s grandfather, Jake Kupp. Jake Kupp was named to the 25-year All-Time Team for the Saints and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1991.
Both of his Cooper’s parents, Craig Kupp and Karin Kupp (formerly Gilmer) are members of the Pacific Lutheran University Hall of Fame after competing for the Lutes in football and soccer, respectively. Karin’s father, Tom Gilmer, is also in the PLU Hall of Fame, as well as the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
Cooper’s parents were in Philadelphia to accept on his behalf while the team prepared for its semifinal matchup in the FCS Playoffs against Towson.
“I would like to thank my parents and grandparents for teaching me that hard work and overcoming adversity go hand-in-hand,” said Kupp, whose great-uncle, Jeff Kupp, played for EWU from 1982-84. The have helped me embrace the challenge and know than I can overcome anything set before me.
“I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for without him none of this would be possible,” he added.
Vernon Adams Finishes as Runner-up For Walter Payton Award
Eastern sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams finished second in the voting for the 27th Annual Payton Award given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. The winner was Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and finishing third was Towson running back Terrance West.
The Payton Award was won previously by Eastern players Erik Meyer (2005) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2011). That award is bestowed on the outstanding player in the FCS and considered the Heisman Trophy of the former Division I-AA level. The award was presented Dec. 16 at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia.
Vernon Adams and Cooper Kupp Receive Top Honors from College Performance Awards
Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams and redshirt freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp received top honors from College Football Performance Awards (http://collegefootballperformance.com) after sensational, record-breaking seasons for the Eagles.
Adams, a sophomore from Pasadena, Calif. (Alemany HS ’11) won the top award overall given by CFPA as the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision National Performer of the Year. Florida State freshman Jameis Winston won the same honor for NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Kupp, a redshirt freshman from Yakima, Wash. (Davis HS ’12) was presented the CFPA Wide Receiver Award for FCS, which was won the previous year by Eastern’s Brandon Kaufman.
AFCA Honors T.J. Lee III and Cooper Kupp on Prestigious All-America Team
A pair of players from the state of Washington – wide receiver Cooper Kupp and cornerback T.J. Lee III – were selected to the American Football Coaches Association NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America team. A national committee of FCS coaches selects the prestigious 25-member squad.
Kupp, a freshman from Yakima, Wash. (Davis HS ’12) was the lone freshman or sophomore on the team after enjoying a record-breaking season that saw him capture the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS. Lee, a three-time All-Big Sky Conference first team selection from Seattle (West Seattle HS ’09), was one of 17 seniors on the squad, which has been selecting All-America teams since 1945.
Kupp and Lee bring the total number of Eastern players selected to the squad to 18, representing 19 honors.
“Fabulous” Kupp, Adams & Lee Honored in FCS Top 50
Eastern’s Cooper Kupp, Vernon Adams and T.J. Lee have been listed among the top 50 players in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision on the College Sporting News 2013 Fabulous Fifty FCS All-America Team.
Kupp won Freshman of the Year accolades after a record-breaking debut season as an EWU wide receiver. He previously won the Jerry Rice Award presented by the Sports Network to the top freshman in FCS. The 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., was also presented the CFPA Wide Receiver Award for FCS.
Adams, a sophomore, made the CSN top 50 list as one of three quarterbacks honored. Lee was one of two cornerbacks recognized and is a repeat honoree on the Fabulous 50 squad.
Ashton Miller Continues Tradition of All-America Offensive Linemen
Continuing a tradition of All-America offensive lineman at EWU, senior center Ashton Miller was a first team selection on the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation All-America football teams for players in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, the two organizations announced Dec. 18.
The Eagles have now had 21 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades in the last 21 years (1993-2013) while winning 22 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2013). Miller became the 22nd first team All-Big Sky selection and the 21st All-American in 2013. The Eagles have now won 106 first-team All-America honors in the past 17 seasons (1997-2013).
Samson Ebukam Earns Freshman All-America Honors
On a team loaded with depth along the defensive line, true freshman Samson Ebukam has been chosen as a second team selection on the College Sports Journal All-Freshman Team.
In addition to Ebukam, redshirt freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp was the College Sports Journal Freshman of the Year. Previously, Terrance West of Towson won the award in 2011, and John Robertson of Villanova and Sean Price of Appalachian State shared the honor in 2012.
Ebukam, a 2013 graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Ore., played in all 15 Eastern games and finished with 28 tackles and three quarterback sacks. He was credited with two passes broken up and two quarterback hurries.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end also had an interception he returned 21 yards for a touchdown in EWU’s 34-10 home win over Southern Utah. He recorded sacks versus Sam Houston State, North Dakota and Idaho State.
He was one of three true freshmen among the 11 players who saw significant action along the defensive line for the Eagles.
Kupp has now won four Freshman of the Year accolades after a record-breaking debut season as an EWU wide receiver. He previously won the Jerry Rice Award presented by the Sports Network to the top freshman in FCS, and was also honored as the top frosh by College Sports Madness and College Sporting News. In addition, he was selected as a first team FCS All-American on seven different teams, and the 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., was presented the CFPA Wide Receiver Award for FCS.
Vernon Adams and Cooper Kupp Take Big Sky Top Honors
Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin has coached the best – record-breakers and Payton Award winners included. But the 2013 performance by sophomore Vernon Adams tops them all.
Adams was selected as the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year in a vote by the league’s head coaches, winning the honor for the 10th time by an Eastern player, including nine of the last 13 years.
The honor was announced Nov. 26, and also included the announcement of Eagle freshman sensation Cooper Kupp as the league’s Freshman of the Year. Both he and Adams were the only unanimous selections on the All-Big Sky Conference first team, earning first team votes on all 12 ballots. A total of 25 Eagle players were honored on first team (5 selections), second team (5), third team (4) and honorable mention (11) squads.
Adams, who is now 20-3 as a starting quarterback at Eastern, joined an impressive list of previous winners for EWU, including quarterbacks Bo Levi Mitchell (2011), Matt Nichols (2007 and 2009) and Erik Meyer (2004 and 2005). Mitchell and Meyer went on to win the Walter Payton Award given by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Three-Time Selection T.J. Lee Headlines All-Big Sky Team
Little did his parents know that T.J. Lee III would stand for three-peat. The Eastern cornerback headlined a list of 25 Eagles honored on the All-Big Sky Conference team on Nov. 26 by earning first team honors for the third-straight season.
The 2009 graduate of West Seattle High School became only the third Eagle in school history – and the first on defense -- to accomplish that feat. In fact, only 45 total players in the 50-year history of the league have earned three first team accolades, as well as another three who have four-peated.
Also named to the first team for the Eagles were unanimous selections Vernon Adams (quarterback) and Cooper Kupp (wide receiver), as well as Ashton Miller (center) and Bo Schuetzle (special teams). Adams and Kupp were selected first team on all 12 ballots to earn the league’s only unanimous honors, and were also the league’s Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
Named to the second team were Ronnie Hamlin (outside linebacker), Ashton Clark (wide receiver), Steven Forgette (offensive guard), Clay DeBord (offensive tackle) and Andru Pulu (defensive tackle). Third team selections were Zack Gehring (tight end), Quincy Forte (running back), Anthony Larry (defensive end) and Tevin McDonald (safety).
Another 11 Eagles earned honorable mention -- Shaq Hill (wide receiver), Cory Mitchell (wide receiver), Cassidy Curtis (offensive tackle), Brandon Murphy (offensive guard), Will Katoa (defensive tackle), Dylan Zylstra (defensive tackle), Evan Day (defensive end), Cody McCarthy (inside linebacker), Allen Brown (safety), Ronald Baines (cornerback) and Kevin Miller (kicker).
The only other players in school history to be honored on the first team three times are offensive lineman Harold Fox (1992-93-94) and return specialist Lamont Brightful (1999-2000-01).
Eastern’s list of All-Big Sky players includes 14 seniors, meaning 11 should be back in an Eagle uniform in the 2014 season.
Baldwin Captures Big Sky Coach of the Year Honor
If Beau Baldwin had anything to say about it, he’d rename the award.
The sixth-year Eastern head football coach was awarded for the second-straight season as Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced Nov. 27.
Baldwin led EWU to its third Big Sky title in four seasons with an 8-0 conference mark, and a 10-2 overall record. He became one of four coaches in FCS history to lead his team to a win over a ranked FBS team when his Eagles topped No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 to open the season.
Baldwin’s honor is the seventh for an Eastern head coach. Dick Zornes was the first in 1992, followed by Mike Kramer in 1997. Wulff was honored in 2001, 2004 and 2005 prior to Baldwin winning the honor in 2012.
Eastern’s 2013 season under Baldwin includes wins over five teams who were ranked in the FCS polls in the 2013 season – Montana, Montana State, Cal Poly, Southern Utah and South Dakota State. The only losses for the Eagles came on the road to FBS Toledo and Sam Houston State, which was ranked fourth in FCS at the time.
Ronnie Hamlin & Ashton Miller Selected to Academic All-Star Team
Eastern’s Ronnie Hamlin and Ashton Miller were among the 43 winners selected on the 16th annual NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) Academic All-Star Team announced Jan. 3.
Hamlin and Miller bring to 16 the total number of honors won by 15 different Eastern players since the award began in 1998 when Eagle running back Mike MacKenzie was on the inaugural team. Current EWU offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Best was selected in 1998 when he played center for the Eagles, and most recently, safety Jeff Minnerly was a repeat winner in 2011 and 2012.
A linebacker, Hamlin is a 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash., and has a 3.54 grade point average as a technology major. He earned All-America honors in 2013 after finishing with 140 tackles to rank as the fourth-most in Eastern history.
Miller is a center, and is a 2009 graduate of Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., Miller is currently pursuing his MBA after graduating magna cum laude with a degree in business administration with a 3.74 grade point average (3.63 graduate GPA currently). He earned All-America recognition on four different teams in 2013 as he helped the Eastern offense set a variety of school records and rank in the top four in FCS in total offense (533.5 per game) and passing offense (349.8).
The Senior Class
Eastern’s 2013 roster included 23 seniors, with 12 starting at least 10 games in 2013 for the Eagles (five on offense, seven on defense). The list also included the team’s starting kicker (Kevin Miller).
However, two players did not take part in Senior Day introductions on Nov. 23 -- linebacker Ronnie Hamlin and McKenzie Murphy. Despite being listed as a senior, Hamlin has applied to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. After redshirting the 2009 season because of the bum knee, the injury also kept him from playing during Eastern’s national championship season in 2010. Murphy played his lone collegiate seasons in 2008 for the now-defunct Western Washington program and in 2011 for the Eagles, but received a waiver from the NCAA to play the remainder of in the 2013 season (his sixth year out of high school). Murphy went through EWU’s senior introductions a year ago.
Those 23 seniors combined for 847 games worth of experience, and had 408 starts between them. A total of 13 finished their careers as four-year letterwinners. More importantly, they helped Eastern win an unprecedented three Big Sky Conference titles in four seasons, 27-of-32 Big Sky Conference games and 42 games overall the last four seasons. A total of 18 were a part of EWU’s NCAA Division I Championship in 2010. By contrast, 16 seniors in 2012 combined for 617 games worth of experience and had 292 starts between them.
Below is the complete list of EWU’s seniors in 2013 with
the number of games played/started listed at the end of each
player’s roster information.
41 - J.C. Agen - Linebacker - 6-2 - 210 - Sr. - 4L* - Spokane, Wash. (Central Valley HS ’09) – 37/9
24 - ^Ronald Baines - Cornerback - 5-10 - 195 - Sr. - 4L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Mount Tahoma HS ’09) – 51/28
30 - Demitrius Bronson – Running Back - 5-10 - 210 - Sr. - 3L* - Kent, Wash. (Kentwood HS ’08 / Washington) – 29/10
70 - ^Steven Forgette – Offensive Guard - 6-4 - 300 - Sr. - 4L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Heritage HS ’09) – 47/46
85 - ^Zack Gehring – Tight End - 6-4 - 240 - Sr. - 4L* - Castle Rock, Wash. (Castle Rock HS ’09) – 50/34
92 - ^Will Katoa – Defensive Nose Tackle - 6-0 - 295 - Sr. - 4L* - Salt Lake City, Utah (Judge Memorial HS ’09) – 52/16
19 - Christian Hudnell - Cornerback - 6-0 - 185 - Sr. - 2L* - Sacramento, Calif. (Jesuit HS ’09 / Kentucky) – 4/1
83 - Cody Humphrey – Tight End - 6-5 - 260 - Sr. - 3L* - Hermiston, Ore. (Hermiston HS ’09) – 23/2
23 - Daniel Johnson – Wide Receiver - 5-10 - 190 - Sr. - 4L* - San Jose, Calif. (Valley Christian HS ’09) 35/3
1 - ^Anthony Larry – Defensive End - 6-3 - 250 - Sr. - 3L* - Sacramento, Calif. (Luther Burbank HS ’09) – 38/22
31 - ^T.J. Lee III – Cornerback - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - 4L* - Seattle, Wash. (West Seattle HS ’09) – 49/35
68 - Kevin Miller - Kicker - 6-2 - 225 - Sr. - 4L* - Portland, Ore. (Centennial HS ’09) – 52
77 - ^Brandon Murphy – Offensive Guard - 6-4 - 305 - Sr. - 4L* - Albany, Ore. (West Albany HS ’09) – 52/38
25 - McKenzie Murphy - Safety - 5-9 - 190 - Sr. - 2L* - Spokane, Wash. (Ferris HS ’08 / Western Washington) – 17/0
46 - Jakob Pugsley – Defensive End - 6-3 - 235 - Sr. - 3L* - Newman Lake, Wash. (East Valley ’09) – 33/1
93 - ^Andru Pulu – Defensive Tackle - 6-2 - 290 - Sr. - 2L* - Federal Way, Wash. (Fed. Way HS ’09 / Washington) – 28/28
52 - Drew Reynolds – Offensive Guard - 6-1 - 300 - Sr. - 3L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’09) – 22/9
21 - Bo Schuetzle - Cornerback - 6-0 - 200 - Sr. - 4L* - Spokane, Wash. (Shadle Park HS ’09) – 52/3
12 - Anthony Vitto - Quarterback - 6-1 - 195 - Sr. - 4L* - Simi Valley, Calif. (Chaminade College Prep ’09) – 10/0
2013 Co-Captains . . .
4 - ^Allen Brown - Safety - 5-10 - 170 - Sr. - 4L* - Tacoma, Wash. (Foss HS ’09) – 52/38
15 - ^Ashton Clark – Wide Receiver - 5-11 - 185 - Sr. - 3L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Heritage HS ’09) – 42/17
39 - ^Ronnie Hamlin - Linebacker - 6-2 - 235 - Sr. - 3L* - Lacey, Wash. (Timberline HS ’09) – 40/37
66 - ^Ashton Miller - Center - 6-2 - 300 - Sr. - 4L* - Vancouver, Wash. (Evergreen HS ’09) - 33/30
^Has started at least nine games in 2013.
Quoting Coach Baldwin
On Quincy Forte: “He has a little bit of everything in him. That is not taking anything away from guys like Mario, Jabari, Bronson and guys who have run for us well -- not just this year, but also in past years. Quincy is probably the biggest threat of a home run with some power. He has a little bit more strength than you might think for a smaller guy. At the same time, I will be the first to say that any one of those guys I mentioned could get some of those carries and end up in the same spot. We are blessed to have a nice group of running backs by committee. I think that has helped us (this year). Quincy came into the playoffs with limited carries on the year. A lot of times your starting running back is not sitting at 120 carries. He hasn’t been injured. We have been able to do that throughout the course of the year with Mario, Jabari and Bronson. When it is all said and done you are fresh at the end of the year with all your backs. That is the big picture plan we have had.”
On Jacksonville State Win: “I want to congratulate our players. Every game, especially in December, is going to have a different feel to it. We talk about that a lot in team meetings. There might be games that are smooth and rhythmic. There might be other games that are defensive battles. We consistently are able to make adjustments and find ways to win in whatever ball game it is. To do that is tougher than you might think. I am really proud of our guys to keep fighting. We found different ways to win this game than we did a week ago.”
On South Dakota State Win: “I am proud of our players. I thought we stepped up and played some cold weather playoff type of football. A lot of times as a team we get looked at in a certain way because maybe we put up a lot of yards passing. We were able to play some tough grind-it out-football. We won the turnover battle, had great second-half defense and we finished running the ball really well, along with scoring with the ball in the air. I am proud of the guys for their fight. They just have to keep getting tougher as they go.”
On Vernon Adams Winning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year Award: “I don’t want to take anything away from players like Erik Meyer, Matt Nichols and Bo Levi Mitchell, but Vernon’s season this year is the best I’ve seen since I’ve been a college football coach. He’s earned this award and there is no question about it. He went after it and it’s been fun to see his progress. He worked hard to improve his skills as a quarterback, such as how he is going to beat the blitz and how he is going throw down the field with things crashing around him. Plus the little things, like how he’s going to lead. He’s taken a lot of hits and has had times when his body isn’t feeling great, but he’s played through it. The ride isn’t even close to being over in our minds in terms of the growth we can make as a team and Vernon’s growth as a quarterback. His mindset is that he wants to keep getting better and there is still a very high ceiling he can go after.”
On Cooper Kupp: “Bigger than (the statistics), he maximizes every ounce of his talent. We all see he has talent – lots of talent – but he has a great work ethic for video study, off-season work and preparation. He understands what teams are doing defensively, how to work a release and knows our entire offense. That allows us to put him in different positions. He understands the concept of every play, not just the receiver position he is playing. We can move him around, and teams can’t plan for him to be at one spot all the time – he’s everywhere within our offense. It’s hard for a freshman to do those things mentally, and then he’s also been tough enough to handle hard hits and play through pain. He’s a strong-minded young man with a lot of talent, but it’s that mental toughness and work ethic that takes him from being a good or great player to one of the best. (The Big Sky Freshman of the Year Award) was unanimous with the coaches in the conference, and deservingly so. In a conference rich with receiver talent, he was the best as a freshman. He the best receiver in this conference – not just the best freshman – and he was in the top three or four nationally in terms of what he’s done statistically.”
On T.J. Lee: “T.J. has been incredible. In this conference with such a rich history and the competition you are up against every week, to be recognized as a three-time first team All-Big Sky player is hard to do. He’s gone out and earned it. He’s second on our team in tackles and cornerbacks don’t usually make a lot of tackles. He’s ferocious. He has cover skills, he can blitz, he can force and recover fumbles and he can flat out tackle. Unselfishly, he went back there and played safety for us when we were in a bind. He averaged double digits in tackles in those two games, including 14 against Montana State. He’s a great, All-America type of player for us. He will surely be missed, but I’m excited to see him hopefully finish things out the right way in the playoffs.”
On 25 Players Honored on All-Big Sky Team: “It’s been an extremely strong group of players both physically and mentally. They’ve earned it – I keep using that word because you don’t end up as outright Big Sky champs without a lot of work. It’s not just given to you and it’s not just luck, you go out and earn it. The players who were recognized got after it in January all the way through July to put themselves in the position to have this kind of season. I’m proud of them for that and everything they’ve done to get our program to this point.”
On Winning Coach of the Year: “I am humbled very much. Especially in the sport of football, a coach of the year award is more accurately stated as a coaching staff of the year award. So much of it is because of what the assistant coaches do every year. I’m lucky to have not only great football guys, but great teachers and men on this staff. This type of award is a tribute to them. And no staff ever wins a coach of the year award without talented players, great leadership and outstanding character in the locker room. Our players exemplify that.”
On 8-0 Big Sky Finish: “It feels really good to finish Big Sky play unbeaten. I give credit to all the players for battling -- especially the seniors. They battled the whole year to get to this point. It is not easy to win the conference championship. To do it and finish it like this is fun. It’s hard to win one Big Sky title let alone three out of the last four years. That’s amazing and I’m just proud of all the people who are a part of making that happen.”
On Seniors: “To win league championships in three out of four years is unheard of at a lot of schools, and unprecedented in the history of Eastern football. They were the leaders in that accomplishment, and have helped us to where we are now. It’s a special group. We hear it a lot from other people how good of young men they are. They will be missed, but we are going to enjoy as much time as we have with them the rest of this year.”
On Anthony Vitto: “There are a lot of schools in the country where he would be a starter. I know it’s hard on him sometimes because he wants to play. When he has the opportunities like this, he’s making the most of them. You saw it at Oregon State, you saw it against Montana State and you definitely saw it in a big way against Cal Poly. I’m really proud of him and we’re lucky to have a player as a backup to Vernon that has the ability as a starter.”
On Sweeping Montana: “We have come a long way. I have a lot of respect for those Montana programs like a lot of other programs. Those two Montana programs are huge, so to win the last four against them in back-to-back years is special (first time since 1992). It is a combination of a lot of things helping us to get to that point. I couldn’t be happier for all the people that are a part of it.”
On Eastern’s 500th Win All-Time in Victory Over MSU: “I can’t think of a better way (to have the 500th win). I just thank the fans, the guys that went out there and played, and our coaches. It was a total team effort, and the environment was awesome. I can’t think of a better way to win. Montana State is a very good football team. We were able to really play a great football game and finish, especially in the second half.”
On Importance of Winning in Missoula to Seniors: “Twice in your career you get an opportunity to play there. To get that victory for our seniors was special, and now our program has beaten Montana three of the last four years. It’s been a long time (since 1992) that Eastern has beaten Montana in back-to-back seasons. There are a lot of things from that victory that are special to our seniors and program.”
On Importance of Montana Win in FCS: “It was a huge league game and it had national implications. Whether we are from the same league or not, it was a game between two top 10 teams. Our players embrace coming into (tough) environments and love the challenge of that. We loved the challenge going into this and we knew it was going to be tough to find a way to win.”
On Preseason Schedule: “This was definitely the toughest preseason schedule we’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of the first four games. But I invite it – I love it. It’s helped us be battle-tested because we’ve been in some serious wars. It’s tough and it’s a challenge. We were put on a stage on the road against one of the top teams at our level (against Sam Houston State).”
On Being Fourth FCS School to Defeat a Ranked FBS Team: “It’s big and shines a light on our program, even more than before. I’m not going to undersell it – it’s huge for the program and what it does in recruiting and the image of who we are.”
On Victory Over No. 25 Oregon State: “I’m proud of our players. We’ve come up short before in games like this, but I’m proud when I see them out there fighting, not getting wide-eyed and attacking the situation. When things don’t go right, we want them to be ready to respond. And our team did that against a very good Oregon State football team. Winning the ballgame is huge, but I was just proud of how our team handled every situation that came up in the game.”
On Coaching Eagle Players: “The best part about coaching to me is working with 18 to 23-year-old student-athletes and getting a chance to make an impact in their lives. We get to watch them grow, and it’s fun to be a part of that process. The culture and attitude that has been built over the years has grown to a new level. We’ve had great players and leaders here before, but this group has learned from past teams and players on how to prepare in the offseason and what to do in the summer. The makeup and mental attitude of our players has grown. If you have that, you have a chance to be successful and the more enjoyable it is to coach.”
Defense (292 starts by 22 players): Allen Brown 38, Ronnie Hamlin 37, T.J. Lee 35, Ronald Baines 28, Andru Pulu 28, Anthony Larry 22, Cody McCarthy 20, Evan Day 17, Will Katoa 16, Miquiyah Zamora 10, J.C. Agen 9, Tevin McDonald 8, Jordan Tonani 7, Todd Raynes 6, Bo Schuetzle 2, Miles Weatheroy 2, Dylan Zylstra 2, Jakob Pugsley 1, Zach Bruce 1, Zackary Johnson 1, Christian Hudnell 1, Frank Cange 1.
Offense (339 starts by 25 players): Steven Forgette 46, Brandon Murphy 38, Zack Gehring 34, Ashton Miller 30, Clay DeBord 27, Vernon Adams 24, Quincy Forte 17, Ashton Clark 17, Cooper Kupp 15, Cory Mitchell 13, Cassidy Curtis 10, Demitrius Bronson 10, Jordan Talley 9, Drew Reynolds 9, Ryan Seto 7, Jake Withnell 7, Mario Brown 6, Shaq Hill 4, Jake Rodgers 4, Daniel Johnson 3, T.J. Boatright 2, Cody Humphrey 2, Jase Butorac 2, Jabari Wilson 2, Zach Wimberly 1.
* Only four positions had players making their first starts as Eagles against Oregon State, and two were manned by former starters in the Pac-12 Conference. Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp started at wide receiver and redshirt freshman Jabari Wilson started at running back. Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State in 2012, started at right tackle in his Eagle starting debut. The other Eagle starting debut was by safety Tevin McDonald, who started 24 games the previous two seasons at UCLA. Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Hill made the first start of his career in EWU’s second game of the season against Western Oregon, and offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis and fullback/tight end Zach Wimberly made their first starts at Toledo. Linebacker Miquiyah Zamora made the first start of his career against Weber State and responded with five tackles (1 1/2 for loss) and had his first career interception, which led to an EWU touchdown. Against North Dakota, safety Todd Raynes and defensive end Zackary Johnson made the first starts of their careers. Raynes had a team-high seven tackles with a pass broken up in his debut, and Johnson finished with three tackles. No starting debuts were made in the Southern Utah and Montana games, but safety Zach Bruce made his first career start against Idaho State. Eastern had two new cornerbacks start against Montana State – senior Bo Schuetzle made his first career start when T.J. Lee was moved to safety and Frank Cange started when Ron Baines was late for a meeting earlier in the day. Senior Jakob Pugsley made the first start of his career on Senior Day on Nov. 23 versus Portland State.
Offensive tackle T.J. Boatright (knee) was injured against Cal Poly and missed EWU’s final four games. Cornerback Ronald Baines (concussion) missed much of the South Dakota State game, but returned to play versus Jacksonville State. Safety Allen Brown (hamstring) was injured against Montana and missed three games before starting versus Portland State. Safety Isaiah Jenkins (shoulder) missed the Cal Poly and Portland State games and returned for the playoffs. Running back Demitrius Bronson (foot) also missed the Cal Poly game but started versus Portland State, and fellow running back Jabari Wilson (hamstring) did not play versus PSU. Quarterback Vernon Adams (shoulder strain) was injured on a touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp in the third quarter at Cal Poly, but was held out of the rest of the game for precautionary reasons and started against Portland State after getting limited reps in practices. Todd Raynes (hamstring) and linebacker J.C. Agen (quadriceps) played versus Cal Poly after missing the MSU and Idaho State games with injuries suffered against Montana. Nose tackle Will Katoa (knee) and offensive tackle Clay Debord (ankle) were also injured at Montana and missed the Idaho State game. Safety Tevin McDonald was lost for the season with a broken fibula suffered against Idaho State that required surgery. Wide receiver and kickoff returner Shaq Hill (knee sprain), who was injured against North Dakota and did not play versus Southern Utah, returned to play against Montana on Oct. 26 and had an 86-yard touchdown catch. Starting offensive tackle Jake Rodgers (knee sprain) and running back Jabari Wilson (shoulder) were both injured against Western Oregon on Sept. 7, but both returned to play against Montana after missing five games each. Running back Jalen Moore missed the North Dakota and Southern Utah games with a hip pointer and kidney stones. Defensive lineman Jordan Pulu had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 29 and made his season debut against Weber State on Oct. 5. But he suffered a shoulder injury in that game and will have surgery. He will apply for a medical hardship to receive his year of eligibility back. True freshman wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (ankle) missed the UND game but played against Southern Utah and caught a 31-yard TD pass. Offensive lineman Drew Reynolds (knee) also made his season debut against WSU after missing EWU’s first five games. Running back Demitrius Bronson (high ankle sprain) suited up versus Toledo, but sat out for the third-straight game. He carried five times and scored twice in his season debut against Sam Houston State on Sept. 28. Running back Quincy Forte (hamstring) missed the Oregon State game, but returned to rush for 99 yards against Western Oregon. Senior tight end Cody Humphrey suffered a dislocated patella in practice on Aug. 21 and required surgery, and was lost for the season. As a result, defensive lineman Zach Wimberly was moved to tight end, and Ryan Seto played as both a wide receiver and tight end. Before the season began, freshman All-America safety and Ferris HS graduate Jordan Tonani began surgical treatment for a hip ailment that cost him the 2013 season. Tonani’s painful hip injury is called hip joint acetabular impingement, and the ailment requires surgery to both hips with six months of rehabilitation required for each. His first surgery on his left hip took place on July 29, and also included a labral tear that was repaired. He had the second surgery on his right hip on Sept. 16. He would have competed for a starting position at safety, but should return fully healthy in spring 2014.
More Player Notes
* Senior T.J. Lee, a three-time first team All-Big Sky cornerback and two-time All-American, concluded his career by playing in the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 19. He finished his career with 263 tackles, four interceptions, 25 passes broken up and 3 1/2 sacks in his 49-game career (35 starts). He is just the 35th Eagle in school history to have 200 career tackles and finished ranked 11th. He owns sole possession of the school record for most career forced fumbles with seven, and his 25 passes broken up ranks sixth. Three times in his career he forced and recovered the same fumble, with two of them occurring on quarterback sacks. One of those three came in 2013 against North Dakota (10/12/13) when he also finished with six tackles and a pass broken up. He had a trio of passes broken up at Idaho State (11/2/13) and had a career-high 14 tackles and the fourth interception of his career one game later against Montana State (11/9/13) in his first-ever start at safety for the Eagles. He finished his career with five performances with at least 10 tackles in his career, and in 2013 he ranked 14th in school history with 114 total tackles, ranked 10th with 11 passes broken up and set a school record with four forced fumbles. Lee earned All-America honors in 2012 from The Sports Network (second team), and was also honored on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America squad. He piled up some impressive statistics in 2012, ranking third on the team with 90 tackles and finishing with 11 passes broken up to rank 10th in school history. His average of 6.4 tackles per game ranked 29th in the Big Sky and his total of 11 passes broken up were second. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also had 2 1/2 sacks, nine total tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2011, Lee was a first team All-Big Sky selection, finishing the season with 48 tackles, a pair of interceptions and one pass broken up.
* Finishing 12th in the voting for the 2013 Buck Buchanan Award, senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin has 361 tackles already in his 40-game EWU career (37 starts) to rank third in school history. His 140 tackles in 2013 rank as the fourth-most in school history, and he has had 17 performances with at least 10 tackles in his career. Despite a shoulder injury that was expected to keep him out of the second half, he had the second-best performance of his Eastern career with 15 tackles versus Jacksonville State (12/14/13). Hamlin also has four career interceptions, and his momentum-changing 77-yard return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/12/13) was the 10th-longest in school history. With UND driving for a potential game-tying score late in the third quarter, he leaped high to snag the third interception of his career, ran over one would-be tackler, then returned it down the sideline for his first pick-six as an Eagle. He also had a diving interception against Idaho State (11/2/13) to squelch an ISU drive and lead to an EWU TD and 45-27 lead. Despite being listed as a senior, Hamlin has applied to the NCAA to receive his sixth year. After redshirting the 2009 season because of the bum knee, the injury also kept him from playing during Eastern’s national championship season in 2010. If he does get the extra year back, he should break the school record of 432 tackles set by 2010 Buck Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt. Hamlin earned All-America honors in 2012 from Phil Steele Publications (fourth team) and was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He had 136 tackles in 2012 to rank fifth in school history, and his average of 9.71 per game ranked 31st in FCS and fourth in the Big Sky.
* Boise, Idaho, native Cody McCarthy has 24 tackles in the last two games of the season to give him seven performances of at least 10 stops in his 34-game career (20 as a starter). He had 11 in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs against Jacksonville State (12/14/13), then had a career-high 13 against Towson (12/21/13). He has career totals of 203 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and three passes broken up. He led EWU with 11 tackles for losses totaling 41 yards in the 2013 season. He needs just nine tackles in 2014 to move into the top 24 in school history in tackles.
* Junior defensive end Evan Day had a sack in five-straight games from Oct. 12 to Nov. 9. He had one more against Portland State on Nov. 23, giving him a team-leading six on the season and 14 in his 38-game career (17 as a starter).
* Team co-captains for the 2013 season include a quartet of seniors from high schools in the state of Washington -- center Ashton Miller, senior wide receiver Ashton Clark, senior safety Allen Brown and junior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin. The players were selected by a vote of their teammates.
* Senior offensive guard Steven Forgette missed most of the 2011 season because of an injury, but his 46 career starts were the most among all Eastern players in the 2013 season. The only game he didn’t start in his 47-game career was to allow a senior to start on Senior Day in 2010. In 2012, he earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2012 from the College Sports Journal and second team All-Big Sky accolades. He was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team. Forgette helped EWU rank seventh in the FCS in 2012 in passing yards per game (318.9), 14th overall in total offense (442.0) and 17th in scoring (33.7). He started all 14 Eastern games at left offensive guard a year after breaking his fibula against Montana (9/17/11) and missing the rest of the season. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when the Eagles won the NCAA Division I title.
* Vernon Adams currently has a career passing efficiency rating of 176.3 (64.2 percent, 6,955 yards, 75 TD, 23 INT), which currently ranks as the school and Big Sky record ahead of Erick Meyer (166.5 from 2002-05). A starter in 24 of the 27 games he has played in his career, Adams has a career average of 257.6 passing yards per game to currently third all-time at EWU. His 75 TD passes are already third, his 6,955 passing yards are fifth and his 7,902 yards of total offense are third. He is now 20-4 as a starter, with his lone losses coming against Southern Utah in 2012 and Toledo, Sam Houston State and Towson in 2013. Adams was selected as the Freshman of the Year on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America team in 2012, and was also on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad. Adams was also one of 20 players on the ballot for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top freshman in FCS by The Sports Network (he finished sixth in the voting, which occurred prior to the playoffs). Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80), and was the only freshman in the top 24 of the rankings. His efficiency rating also ranked fourth all-time in school history. In nine games as a starter and three as a sub, he completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
* The Eagles have passed for nearly 10,000 yards in the past two seasons, including 5,247 yards in the 2013 season to rank fourth in FCS (349.8 per game) and break EWU and Big Sky records. In 2012, the Eagles finished seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game), as returning starter Vernon Adams combined with Kyle Padron to lead EWU to the school record for passing yards. The Eagles finished with 4,469 yards, breaking the previous record of 4,102 yards in 2005. In back-to-back games in the FCS Playoffs, each had a school-record six touchdown passes -- Padron versus Illinois State (12/8/12) in the quarterfinals and Adams against Sam Houston State (12/15/12) in the semifinals. Adams completed 14-of-26 passes for 364 yards – all after intermission --- as EWU scored 42 points in the second half to rally from a 35-0 halftime deficit and nearly pull off an improbable rally.
* Despite standing just 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, senior safety Allen Brown played in 48 of 48 games in his career until missing three games with a hamstring injury. He and teammates Kevin Miller, Brandon Murphy, Bo Schuetzle and Will Katoa all ended up with 52 games played, breaking the school record of 51 shared with three other players. Brown finished with career totals of 38 starts, 237 tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes broken up. He is the 34th Eagle in school history to have 200 career tackles, and ended his career ranked 17th. He had 38 career starts, ranking first on the defense and second overall (Steven Forgette had 46). At the end of spring practices in 2013, Brown was the recipient on defense of the “Iron Eagle” Award for achievements in the off-season in strength and conditioning and the classroom. He finished second on the team with 91 tackles in 2012 to help him earn second team All-Big Sky honors. Brown was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles. His average of 6.5 tackles per game in 2012 ranked 28th in the Big Sky. He was also second on the team with seven passes broken up to go along with a pair of forced fumbles.
* Redshirt freshman Shaq Hill currently has the ninth-best career kickoff return average in school history (24.2) and is fifth in kickoff return yards (1,546). He was a member of the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America team and earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2012. Hill, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota (10/6/12), finished ranked 17th in FCS with an average of 26.8 yards per kickoff return. On EWU’s single season leaders lists, he finished the 2012 season ranked in the top 10 in kickoff returns (third, 34), kickoff return yards (second, 912) and kickoff return average (10th, 26.8). As a backup wide receiver, he caught seven passes for 66 yards. Hill would have had another TD in the FCS Playoffs against Illinois State (12/8/12), but the video replay official determined he dropped the ball a yard shy of the end zone and it became a non-scoring 93-yard return. He earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors. As a team, Eastern was 14th in FCS with a 23.5 average, as Cory Mitchell added a non-scoring 67-yard return in the Illinois State (12/8/12) game.
* The 43.4 career punting average of sophomore Jake Miller currently ranks as a school record, placing him ahead of the 42.3 average of Jesse Nicassio (2002-03). He has had 26 punts of 50 yards or more in his career and 11 of at least 55. He owns nine punts ranked in the top 35 in school history, with boots of 74, 66, 59 (twice) and 57 (five times). In the 2013 season, he finished with a 42.8 average (fifth in school history) and had 16 of his 52 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team in 2013 and 2012, Miller had a school-record 74-yard punt versus Washington State (9/8/12), breaking the previous record of 71 set in 2006 by Ryan Donckers. His best in 2013 was a 66-yarder (seventh in school history). Miller’s average of 43.3 yards per punt in 2012 ranks third all-time in EWU history, just behind his No. 2 ranking with a 44.2 average in 2011 (the school record is 44.4). He finished with a 42.8 average in 2013 to rank fifth and give him three of the top five single season marks in school history. Of his 40 punts in 2012, six were for at least 50 yards and 15 were downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
* Ronnie Hamlin’s long hair has been a trademark of his, and a friendly wager between teammates lasted three years. During the 2010 season, Hamlin and safety Jeff Minnerly challenged each other to see who could go the longest without cutting their hair. Linebacker Zach Johnson was also in on the wager, but dropped out after EWU won the NCAA Division I title. Minnerly eventually cut his hair on Dec. 17, 2012 -- just two days after his career and the 2012 season concluded -- and donated the hair to Locks of Love. Hamlin has continued to let his hair grow.
* The top plays and honors of sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams have been encapsulated in a new web site located at www.BigPlayVA.com. Featured are some of the top plays by Adams, including his incredible scramble and touchdown throw against Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012, which was one of eight finalists for the GEICO Play of the Year. His game-winning touchdown run against Oregon State on Aug. 31, 2013, is also on the site. He had a school-record of 518 yards of total offense in the 49-46 upset over the Beavers in only the fourth-ever win by a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school over a ranked member of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The many accolades Adams won as a result of the OSU victory are also featured, as well as an interview on the Jim Rome Show. His complete bio, statistics and information on EWU tickets and the Gateway Project are also prominent.
* McKenzie Murphy, a safety on the 2012 Eagle squad and former player in the now-defunct Western Washington football program, applied for and was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play the remainder of the 2013 for the Eagles. He was granted the waiver for personal circumstances that were not within his control, and was given the ruling on Nov 8. He came off the bench to play in five games and finish with 15 tackles. Murphy made his season debut at Cal Poly on Nov. 16 and had three tackles. In his sixth academic year since graduating in 2008 from Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., Murphy played the 2008 season at Western, which dropped its program the following January. He stayed at Western and eventually received his degree in accounting, and is now pursuing his master’s degree at EWU in computer science. Murphy, who turned 24 on Oct. 20, transferred to EWU in January 2012 and played for EWU that fall. Despite missing two games with a broken thumb that required surgery and one with a concussion, he played in 11 games as a backup safety and had 13 tackles and a pair of interceptions. One of his picks was against Southern Utah when he was playing with a heavily-padded cast. While at Ferris, Murphy was an Associated Press first team All-State selection and was the Greater Spokane League Defensive MVP. He had 120 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. Murphy said he originally started the appeal process in the summer to get the waiver, but an academic internship conflicted with early-season practices. He said the NCAA responded quickly upon presenting his final documentation, and within 24 hours was eligible again. “I wanted to progress my career outside of football, and I had time constraints with the internship that wouldn’t allow me to play,” Murphy said. “But when the injuries starting occurring, the coaches and I started joking about my eligibility and I completed the appeal.”
* Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and several other Eagles helped at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy in Spokane in summer 2013. Adams and Wilson – the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks -- are similar in stature and ability, and will continue to draw comparisons as Adams’ career progresses. Adams, in fact, is now wearing jersey No. 3 for the Eagles – the same number Wilson wears -- after donning No. 16 as a redshirt freshman in 2012. The switch is unrelated to Wilson -- Adams wore No. 3 in high school and asked for that number after it became available when wide receiver Greg Herd graduated.
* Junior safety Tevin McDonald had 135 tackles in 27 career games (24 as a starter) at UCLA, plus four interceptions and 14 passes broken up. He is the son of six-time NFL All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, who is currently the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets where he coaches former Eagle Isaiah Trufant (2002-05). Tevin’s brother, Tim, Jr., (goes by T.J.), was a senior All-America safety at USC in 2012 and was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft by St. Louis. Tevin was with Eastern during 2013 spring practices after getting dismissed from UCLA’s squad for violating team policy.
* Another talented transfer who joined the Eagles in 2013 was offensive lineman Jake Rodgers, a 12-game starter at Washington State last fall. He started at right guard in the team’s season-opener at BYU, then started at left guard in WSU’s 24-20 win over Eastern Washington. He started a total of three games at right guard (BYU, UNLV, Colorado), one at left guard (EWU), five at right tackle (Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, Utah) and the final three games of the season at left tackle (UCLA, Arizona State, Washington).
* Lost for the 2013 season with a painful hip injury that required surgery to both hips, Jordan Tonani had a sensational redshirt freshman season for the Eagles in 2012. As an injury replacement for senior safety Jeff Minnerly, Tonani earned a spot on the College Sports Journal Freshman All-America squad and was awarded with honorable mention All-Big Sky honors. He started seven games and finished the year sixth on the team with 68 tackles, and also had a team-leading three interceptions with five passes broken up and a fumble recovery. In one of many impressive performances during his debut season, Tonani’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown with 11:15 to play became the winning points in a 27-24 victory over second-ranked Montana State (10/13/12). He also had eight tackles, and as a result, was selected as the College Sports Madness National FCS Defensive Player of the Week, as well as their same honor for the Big Sky Conference.
* For the second time in the 2013 season, sophomore quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Vernon Adams earned National Player of the Week honors from College Sports Madness for his performance against Montana on Oct. 26. He also repeated as a College Sporting News National All Star and one six recipients of Beyond Sports Network FCS Offensive Player of the Week, in addition to earning FCS Offensive Player of the Week accolades from USA Football. He completed 27-of-40 passes for a career-high 457 yards, ranking as the fifth-most in school history. His six TDs tied the school record set on five previous occasions, including once by Adams in the second half alone of a 2012 loss in the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
* Redshirt freshman Cooper Kupp earned Co-Freshman of the Week honors from The Sports Network for his 11-catch, 182-yard receiving performance against Montana on Oct. 26. He was also the FCS Wide Receiver Performer of the Week as selected by College Performance Awards. In back-to-back games versus Southern Utah on Oct. 19 and against Montana, Kupp had 11 catches to equal the 12th-best in school history tied with 10 others, including teammate Ashton Clark with 11 grabs versus SUU a year ago. Kupp finished with 168 yards and a score against the Thunderbirds and versus the Grizzlies he had two touchdowns and 182 yards to rank 18th all-time at EWU. Kupp had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as an Eagle against Oregon State on Aug. 31. He spent part of the summer in 2013 working at the Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. While in high school he previously attended the camp, which is run by Archie Manning, the father of NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning. Archie is a former New Orleans Saints teammate of Cooper’s grandfather, Jake Kupp.
* A total of 15 Eastern players were honored on preseason All-America lists, All-Big Sky Conference teams and positional rankings released in the summer by NCAA Football Championships Subdivision media outlets. Preseason All-America accolades were received by cornerback T.J. Lee III, offensive lineman Steven Forgette and linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, who was also named to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS.
More Team Notes
* When the No. 3 Eagles played No. 4 Montana State on Nov. 9, only one other regular season game in EWU history has matched two higher-ranked FCS teams. And that came earlier in the 2013 season when the No. 2 Eagles fell at No. 4 Sam Houston State 49-34. Until then, the previous biggest game of such magnitude came in 2012 when second-ranked MSU lost at home 27-24 to the sixth-ranked Eagles. And in 12 of the last 18 seasons Eastern has entered the Montana game with both teams nationally-ranked, but the highest collective rankings were 13 in 2013 when the third-ranked Eagles beat the 10th-ranked Grizzlies 42-37 in Missoula, and 14 in 2005 when the No. 12 Eagles beat No. 2 Montana 34-20 in Missoula. The previous biggest non-conference game in school history was in 1992 when the 18th-ranked Eagles lost at No. 3 Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) 41-31. In the FCS Playoffs, Eastern was top-ranked when it defeated fifth-ranked Delaware 20-19 in the 2010 Championship Game. In the 2012 EWU-SHSU matchup in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, the Eagles were fourth and Sam Houston was fifth. In the 2013 semifinals, Eastern was third and Towson was fifth.
* Eastern had a school-record 743 yards of offense in EWU’s 55-34 victory over Idaho State Nov. 2, with 432 through the air and 311 on the ground. The Eagles broke the previous record of 740 set in 1997 against Rocky Mountain. The coach for EWU in that game was Mike Kramer, now the head coach at ISU. Eastern’s 311 rushing yards were the most for the Eagles in their last 117 games dating back to a 331-yard performance against Idaho State on Sept. 25, 2004, in a 47-22 win.