British Columbia Teammates Ryan Phillips & T.J. Lee III Open CFL Season versus Edmonton Featuring J.C. Sherritt & Matt Nichols
Lee, who made the roster for the Lions as a rookie free agent, is one of eight Eagles playing in the CFL
With eight Eagles currently in the Canadian Football League, four of those former Eastern Washington University football players – including rookie T.J. Lee III -- are expected to be on the field this Saturday (June 28) when the British Columbia Lions take on the Edmonton Eskimos in Vancouver, B.C.
Lee had a pair of interceptions – one for a touchdown – in BC’s 37-13 preseason victory over Calgary on June 20. That performance helped the three-time first team All-Big Sky Conference selection and two-time All-American secure a roster position as a backup halfback.
One of the starting halfbacks for the Lions is Ryan Phillips, who was a 2013 West Division All-Star for the fourth time in nine seasons playing for BC. He extended his active games-played streak to 162 last season, and has 146 starts, 37 interceptions and 388 tackles in his career. His interception total is fourth in franchise history and his tackles are second.
Playing on the other side of the field Saturday will be starting linebacker J.C. Sherritt and backup quarterback Matt Nichols. Both had injury-plagued seasons in 2013, and Nichols is trying to win back the starting position he owned in 2012 before a dislocated ankle and knee injuries derailed his career. Sherritt was slowed by a broken thumb last year, but had a CFL record 130 tackles to earn CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player honors in 2012.
Also in action Saturday will be quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell from the Calgary Stampeders when he starts against the Montreal Alouettes. Mitchell was 3-0 as a starter in 2013 when he completed 94-of-135 passes for 1,156 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Former Eagle Greg Peach will play Thursday for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against Toronto, and has spent five previous seasons in the CFL with Edmonton (2009-11), Hamilton (2012) and Winnipeg (2013). He has 22 sacks and 143 total tackles in his 62-game career (55 starts).
Linebacker Shea Emry, who played at Eastern before transferring to the University of British Columbia, enters his seventh season in the CFL. He is now with Toronto after playing all six previous seasons for Montreal.
Offensive lineman Steven Forgette is on the practice squad for the Ottawa Redblacks, a CFL expansion team which makes its regular season debut at home on July 3 against Winnipeg in a sold-out game. He signed with the team in early June after training camp had already began.
Wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was released by British Columbia shortly after he was signed on June 3. He was previously with the Buffalo Bills and was on that team’s practice squad in 2013.
Linebacker Zach Johnson signed March 17 with Calgary, but a hamstring ailment has all but ended his professional hopes. His twin brother, Matt, is with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.
Also in the Canadian Football League is John Zamberlin, a former Eagle assistant coach and Idaho State head coach. He is Hamilton’s assistant special teams coach and a scout. Former Eagle quarterback Rick Worman was going to serve as offensive coordinator for Montreal, but was relieved of his duties on June 9.
Eagles in the Pros
Since 1984, when Eastern became a member of the NCAA
Championship Subdivision (FCS), 73 Eastern football players have
either signed free agent contracts or have been drafted by National
Football League (NFL) or Canadian Football League (CFL) teams. Ten
have been drafted by the NFL and five drafted by the CFL to go
along with four NFL draftees between 1965-74. Eastern has also
enjoyed a recent influx of players into the Arena Football League
(AFL) and arenafootball2 (af2), as well as in the United Football
League (UFL) and Indoor Football League (IFL). Prior to that,
several played in the World League, which became NFL Europa before
it folded. The list below shows EWU’s current professionals
and the team they are currently with. In the bios that follow, the
years listed are the years they lettered at Eastern. The second
line is the original team they were drafted by or signed a free
agent contract with.
Tennessee Titans (NFL) – Michael
Roos – Offensive Tackle – Letterwinner at EWU
Cleveland Browns (NFL) – Isaiah Trufant – Cornerback – 2002-03-04-05
Baltimore Ravens (NFL) – Nathan Overbay Tight End – 2006-07-08-09
Oakland Raiders (NFL) – Taiwan Jones – Cornerback/Running Back – 2008-09-10
Dallas Cowboys (NFL) – Matt Johnson – Safety – 2008-09-10-11
*Seattle Seahawks (NFL) – Andru Pulu - Defensive Tackle – 2012-13
Seattle Seahawks (NFL) – Demitrius Bronson - Tailback – 2011-12-13
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) – Anthony Larry - Defensive End - 2011-13
British Columbia Lions (CFL) – Ryan Phillips – Defensive Back – 2003-04
Toronto Argonauts (CFL) – Shea Emry – Linebacker – 2005-06
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) – Greg Peach – Defensive Line – 2005-06-07-08
Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) – Matt Nichols – Quarterback – 2006-07-08-09
Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) – J.C. Sherritt – Linebacker – 2007-08-09-10
Calgary Stampeders (CFL) – Bo Levi Mitchell – Quarterback – 2010-11
British Columbia (CFL) – T.J. Lee III – Cornerback – 2010-11-12-13
Ottawa (CFL) – Steven Forgette – Offensive Line – 2010-11-12-13
*British Columbia (NFL) – Brandon Kaufman – Wide Receiver – 2009-10-12
*Calgary Stampeders (CFL) – Zach Johnson – Linebacker – 2008-10-11-12
Spokane Shock (AFL) – Erik Meyer – Quarterback – 2002-03-04-05
*Signed contracts in 2014 but are no longer with the team.