|College:||Central Washington '96|
Head Coach Beau Baldwin (Fifth Season at EWU • 33-16)
• Eastern led the NCAA Football Championships Subdivision in passing offense in 2012, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In his four years as Eastern’s head coach, the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense three times and total offense twice. In EWU’s last eight seasons (1994-2011), including seven with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing six times and total offense on five occasions.
• After guiding Eastern to the 2010 NCAA Division I Championship, Baldwin was honored nationally as the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year. He was also honored regionally by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) as Coach of the Year. In addition, Baldwin was a Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year finalist, as well as for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by The Sports Network.
• Now in his 19th season as a coach, his previous 18 seasons included 10 at Central Washington University and eight at Eastern Washington University. He also played quarterback for four seasons at CWU.
• Has coached on teams that have won two national titles (NCAA Division I in 2010; NAIA in 1995) and six conference championships (Big Sky Conference in 2004, 2005 and 2010; Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2002; Columbia Football Association in 2000 and 1998).
• Has coached in 18 postseason playoff games (record of 11-6-1), including four appearances in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (record of 5-3), two appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs (record of 2-2) and two appearances in the NAIA Playoffs (record of 4-1-1).
• Received bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University in 1996.
• He is formerly from Tacoma, Wash., and graduated from Curtis High School in 1990. His wife Nicole is from Spokane, Wash., and is a 2001 graduate of Eastern. They have two daughters – Mia Janae (7) and Macie Patricia (5).
Beau Baldwin found out in the 2011 season how precious titles – let alone playoff appearances – can be in the world of collegiate athletics.
A year after directing the Eastern Washington University football program to the 2010 NCAA Division I title, his 2011 squad was ravaged by injuries and missed the playoffs despite six victories in the last seven games of the season. And it was a rare miss for Baldwin and the Eagles -- Eastern is one of only seven schools (of 120 playing FCS football) to have made the playoffs at least five times in the past eight years (2004-11).
Ever since his high school days when his Curtis High School team in Tacoma, Wash., won the State AAA title, Baldwin has been a part of playoff runs at three collegiate levels – NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II and NAIA. His 18-season collegiate coaching résumé – all at Eastern Washington or Central Washington – includes two national championships, six conference championships and an 11-6-1 record in eight postseason playoff appearances.
Baldwin enters his sixth season as head coach at Eastern with a 33-16 (.667) win-loss record, going 6-5 in 2011, 13-2 in 2010 and 8-4 in 2009 after a 6-5 debut season in 2008. In 2007, as head coach at Central Washington, Baldwin was 10-3, giving him a 43-19 (.694) head coaching record in six seasons. He is 29-11 (.725) in league games as a head coach, including a 23-9 (.719) mark in three seasons as head coach in the Big Sky Conference.
Four of his six seasons as head coach – and two more at Eastern as an assistant – have ended with playoff berths. He had four more berths as a young assistant at Central Washington, including the 1995 NAIA title.
Although Eastern fell short in making the playoffs, a 6-5 finish was an incredible coaching job in its own right. Facing an extremely difficult early-season schedule, the Eagles opened the season by nearly defeating Washington of the Pac-12 Conference before falling 30-27. That performance actually solidified Eastern as the No. 1-ranked team in FCS.
But injuries began to pile up – a total of 14 starters (seven on each side of the ball) suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup, including seven lost for the season. However, the Eagles responded from the injuries and a 0-4 start to win six of their last seven games and narrowly miss the playoffs. Showing its consistency, in 2011 Eastern had its 14th winning season in the last 16 years (1996-2011).
A year earlier, Baldwin took a perennial playoff participant and honed it into a national champion. Ironically, many observers didn’t even have EWU ranked as a top 25 team before the 2010 season began, but the Eagles finished both the regular season and playoffs ranked No. 1.
The 2010 season had a storybook ending for Baldwin after the Eagles finished 13-2 and won the NCAA Division I Championship with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.
“I’m so happy for all the players in our program, and especially happy for the seniors, because you knew no matter what, it was going to be their last college football game,” Baldwin said of the fantastic finish. “And with the hard work they’ve put in, they deserve to go out as champions, because they work like that. That’s the character they have. And it was fun to watch those guys.”
The Eagles won their final 11 games of the 2010 season, and finished with a 7-1 Big Sky Conference record to win their fifth Big Sky title all-time and third in seven seasons. Eastern made its fifth appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs since 2004.
“In that type of ballgame against an incredibly talented and great Delaware team, it came down to those guys on the field,” said Baldwin of his squad, which included just two senior starters on offense and four more on defense. “Those guys just never quit fighting.”
Thousands of Eastern fans were on hand for the title game in Frisco, Texas, and thousands more watched via a national broadcast on ESPN2.
“Winning the championship means a ton for Eastern Washington University as a whole, and it means a lot for the community of Cheney, the City of Spokane, and so many supporters,” Baldwin explained. “And it means a lot to a lot of people that were in Frisco supporting us. It was so electrifying to drive into the parking lot at the stadium and see all our fans all in red tailgating and having fun. That gave us energy and gave us a spark, and it was exciting to see. I just want to thank everyone for that support, because like I said, it’s huge, and there are so many people that have allowed us to be in this position.”
As a result, Baldwin was honored nationally as the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year. He was also a Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year finalist, as well as for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by The Sports Network.
He was also honored regionally by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) as Coach of the Year. Baldwin is only the fifth Eastern coach to be recognized in the more than 60-year history of the awards, which were first presented in 1948. Previous Eastern coaches honored were football coaches Dave Holmes (1967) and Dick Zornes (1992), as well as wrestling coach Curt Byrnes (1977) and basketball coach Ray Giacoletti (2004).
The Eagles were selected as the “Sports Story of the Year” at the prestigious 77th Annual Sports Star of the Year presented by Root Sports in Seattle, Wash. The team was also honored by SWABS as Team of the Year, marking only the second time an Eastern team has been honored since the awards were first presented in 1948. The 1967 football team, which was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) runner-up that season, was the only other team to be honored.
And besides the awards and many speaking engagements that came as a result of the title, Baldwin was given the opportunity on April 9, 2011, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for his favorite boyhood baseball team, the Seattle Mariners. A three-year letter winner as a baseball player and a quarterback in high school, Baldwin threw a perfect strike at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash.
Baldwin has coached four national players of the year at the FCS level – all since 2005 – as presented by The Sports Network. Most recently, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which is presented to the top offensive player. Erik Meyer won the same award in 2005. Defensive end Greg Peach (2008) and J.C. Sherritt (2010) won the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player.
Baldwin graduated in 1990 from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. He earned three letters in football and three in baseball and helped lead Curtis to the 1989 State AAA title in football along with his fellow EWU coach Brian Strandley and former EWU coach Torey Hunter. Eastern offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Best is a 1996 graduate of Curtis.
Baldwin was born May 21, 1972, in Santa Barbara, Calif. His father, Ken, introduced Beau and his younger brother, Joe, to the sports of baseball, basketball and football. When Beau was in the sixth grade, Ken died of a heart attack at the age of 37, leaving their mother, Pat, to raise the two young boys.
Baldwin and his wife, Nicole, have a girl named, Mia Jenae, who was born Dec. 29, 2004. Their second daughter, Macie Patricia, was born Nov. 22, 2006. Although spelled differently, Macie received her name because she was born the day before Thanksgiving Day and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gave her parents the idea.
Nicole (formerly Nicole Monforton) is a graduate of Eastern (bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2001) and Spokane’s Valley Christian High School (1997). She met Beau while working as a graduate student in EWU’s sports information office.
Recruiting State of Washington a Priority – and a Strength . . .
Having spent his entire coaching and playing career in the state of Washington, Baldwin has great knowledge of recruitment within the region and the type of player his program seeks.
“First off, we want to find those student-athletes who fit the right mold from an academic standpoint, a social standpoint and on the field,” he explained. “A lot of times, the on the field part comes easy. There are things you can do when they are between the ages of 18 and 23 to help mold and develop their character. We are going to work hard.
“We’re fortunate to be a great state when it comes to recruiting,” he added. “Some colleges aren’t as fortunate to have that corp of high school players available. I believe that we are going to keep making strides and get better and better. It’s going to be hard work, but I think everybody in our department is willing to work hard to keep us improving.”
There is no better example than two-time All-America linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who now plays for Edmonton in the Canadian Football League. Despite standing just 5-foot-10, the 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School ended his career as the most honored player in school history. Besides winning the Buchanan Award as a senior, he was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He broke his own league and school records by finishing his senior season with 176 tackles, which ranks sixth in FCS history. He finished the year ranked eighth in the FCS with an average of 11.7 tackles per game.
He closed his career with a school-record 432 tackles in his 47-game career (35 as a starter) to rank second in Big Sky history and 10th all-time in the FCS. As a junior, he finished second in the voting for the 2009 Buchanan Award. On his way to earning first team All-America honors on five different teams, he had a school and Big Sky Conference record 170 tackles, and led the FCS with an average of 14.2 tackles per game.
Entire Coaching Career Spent at Eastern or Central . . .
A 1996 graduate of Central Washington, Baldwin’s entire 22-year career as a player and coach has been spent at either CWU or EWU. His record in 18 seasons as a collegiate coach is 124-79-1 (.613) with a 71-37 league mark (.654).
Baldwin first came to Eastern in 2003 and spent four seasons in EWU’s program as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After helping lead the Eagles to FCS Playoff appearances in 2004 and 2005, Baldwin led Central to the 2007 NCAA Division II Playoffs. Baldwin then returned to become EWU’s 20th head football coach and lead the school in its 100th football campaign in his debut season in 2008. He followed that 6-5 season with an 8-4 record and a FCS playoff berth in 2009.
In his debut season, Eastern ranked seventh nationally in passing (299.9 per game) and 24th in total offense (398.5). Individually, national awards candidates Greg Peach and Matt Nichols led the way. Peach, who would go on to win the Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS, led the nation in sacks (1.64 per game) and tackles for loss (2.1). Nichols, a candidate for the Payton Award given to the top offensive player, ranked fifth in total offense (306.9) and sixth in passing offense (299.4).
That team finished 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference, and set the tone for what the Eagles would accomplish in 2009.
Eastern finished the 2009 season 8-4 and advanced to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Eagles finished as the runner-up in the Big Sky Conference with a 6-2 mark, winning their last four regular season games by a combined 172-107 margin. Fighting injuries and fatigue from the long season, Eastern’s run came to an end with a 44-33 playoff loss at Stephen F. Austin.
The Eagles finished the season ranked 13th in the final NCAA FCS Sports Network Poll, and was also ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches poll and the AGS/anygivensaturday.com poll.
In the magical 2010 season, Baldwin and the Eagles finished a perfect 8-0 on the new red Sprinturf surface at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) in Cheney, Wash. The red surface – the first of its kind – was funded by private donations, including a $500,000 gift by former Eagle offensive lineman and current Tennessee Titan Michael Roos. Three of the victories at the “Inferno” were in the FCS Playoffs as EWU defeated Southeast Missouri State 37-17, edged North Dakota State 38-31 in overtime and advanced to the title tilt with a 41-31 win over defending champion Villanova in the semifinals.
Thanks to the tutelage of Baldwin, Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns to earn Most Outstanding Player accolades in the championship game as EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit. Mitchell is from Katy, Texas, and transferred to EWU from Southern Methodist University following the 2009 season.
Mitchell completed 29-of-43 passes and directed EWU on scoring drives of 80 (5 plays), 89 (14 plays) and 63 yards (8 plays) – all in the final 16:48 of the game. Eastern won six games in the 2010 season when it trailed or was tied in the fourth quarter. But the magical championship game victory was by far the largest deficit the Eagles faced in those six games, and the most gratifying.
“It’s not so much magical as it’s just a lot of guys believing in each other even in the toughest of situations,” said Baldwin of the comebacks. “That’s the key. You can’t stop believing no matter how grim it feels, otherwise you’ll never have a chance to operate in those situations.”
For the season, Mitchell completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,496 yards (then fifth in school history), a school-record 37 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 135.8. In NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics, he finished ranked 20th in passing offense (233.1 yards per game), 26th in total offense (236.2) and 26th in efficiency (135.8). Mitchell also broke school records for attempts (505) and completions (300).
The following season, Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. Eastern ended the 2010 season ranked No. 1 in both FCS polls, and entered the 2011 season ranked that way as well.
Coaches Top Three Quarterbacks in School History . . .
While at Eastern, Baldwin has coached three of the greatest quarterbacks in NCAA FCS history – Erik Meyer (2002-2005), Matt Nichols (2006-2009) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2010-11). At Central, he coached three of its all-time greats – NFL veteran Jon Kitna, current Eastern assistant coach Zak Hill and Mike Reilly.
Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, which ranks 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history. He led EWU to a 19-7 record in two years – the most wins in back-to-back seasons of any starter in school history.
As a team, the Eagles were first in FCS in passing with an average of 368.5 per game, and were sixth overall in total offense (447.4) and 22nd in scoring (32.4).
“He really had an amazing career here,” said Baldwin. “It’s a compliment to his work ethic and his ability to pick-up a new system. He had the talent and basically just evolved within our system and kept getting better. Even though our 2011 record wasn’t what we wanted, he kept finding a way to improve and get better every week all the way until the end of the season. That says a lot about his mentality, his competitiveness and his overall drive.”
In 2009, Nichols earned prestigious first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association, as well as three other All-America honors. He finished fourth in the voting for the Payton Award given to the top player in the FCS, and was also the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career.
He broke 14 school records and six Big Sky Conference marks in his 47-game career (45 as a starter) before playing in the East-West Shrine Game and signing a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He passed for 3,830 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior, giving him a total of 12,616 yards and 96 touchdowns in his career. At the time, his career yardage total ranked sixth in FCS history and his touchdown total was 10th.
“It just shows his toughness and longevity,” said Baldwin. “A record like that shows a lot of things. A lot of players have talent but get hurt along the way, or this or that, but Matt was constant and was one of those guys week-in and week-out who just brought it. He deserved the records – he worked hard to get them and I am really proud of him.”
Nichols completed a career-best 65 percent of his passes in 2009 to give him a passing efficiency rating of 156.5 to rank eighth in the FCS. He was fifth in total offense (327.7 per game) and third in passing offense (319.2). As a team, the Eagles finished the 2009 season ranked in the top 10 in four offensive categories in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2), scoring (8th, 33.7) and passing efficiency (4th, 154.5).
As a junior in 2008 – Baldwin’s first season as EWU’s head coach – Nichols earned honorable mention All-BSC honors as he ranked sixth nationally in passing (299.4) and fifth in total offense (306.9). Eastern ranked seventh nationally in passing (299.9 per game) and 24th in total offense (398.5).
Nichols had a school-record 17 interceptions as a freshman when a youthful Eastern team finished just 3-8. In that learning season, Eastern was 77th in the FCS in total offense (310.3 yards per game), 34th in passing (201.90) and 77th in scoring (19.5). The following season, a more experienced EWU team advanced to the 2007 FCS Playoffs as Nichols won Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors and threw a school-record 34 touchdown passes.
“He helped improve my mechanics, my footwork and my accuracy,” Nichols said of Baldwin. “He took me from being a high school quarterback and helped me become a college quarterback. He’s a great coach.”
In 2004 and 2005 with Baldwin as coordinator, Eastern had one of the best offenses in the nation thanks to the arm and legs of Meyer. In 2005, the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game to rank fourth nationally, and were 14th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier, the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth. Eastern also ranked in the top 10 nationally both years in passing offense and passing efficiency.
Meyer had 84 touchdown passes with just 17 interceptions in his career to set a FCS record for passing efficiency (166.47). The All-American broke 14 school records and two Big Sky marks as he was twice selected as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year before winning the Payton Award as the top player in the FCS.
In Baldwin’s first season at EWU in 2003, the Eagles ranked 29th in FCS in scoring (31.27) and were 47th in offense (380.0).
Baldwin Takes Over Highly-Successful Program From Paul Wulff . . .
Baldwin took over an Eastern football program that advanced to the FCS Playoffs three out of the previous four seasons under Paul Wulff, who left Eastern in December 2007 for the head coaching position at Washington State University. Eastern was 9-4 in 2007 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs behind an offense that included sophomore starter Matt Nichols at quarterback and three sophomore starters at wide receiver.
At the same time, Baldwin was guiding Central Washington to a nearly identical successful season.
In 2007, both the Eagles and Wildcats finished the season among the top eight teams in their respective classifications. On Nov. 24, 2007, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final 2:49 to upset previously undefeated and top-seeded Nebraska-Omaha 20-17 in the second round. In the quarterfinals on Dec. 1, Central lost to No. 1 ranked and two-time defending champion Grand Valley State 41-21.
On those very same days in the FCS Playoffs, Eastern had a similar fate. The Eagles opened the playoffs on Nov. 24 by handing second-seeded and No. 3 ranked McNeese State its first loss of the season with an overwhelming 44-15 victory. Eastern was then edged 38-35 by two-time defending champion Appalachian State in the quarterfinals on Dec. 1.
The Wildcats averaged 398.5 yards of total offense per game in 2007, including an average of 263.5 passing. Central averaged 31.4 points per game, including five games with at least 40 points.
Baldwin’s quarterback was Mike Reilly, who was one of 24 national candidates for the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II football. He earned All-Region honors after completing 62 percent of his passes for 3,386 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions for a passing efficiency rating of 145.8.
Baldwin, a quarterback himself at CWU and a former teammate of NFL starter Jon Kitna, watched from 2 1/2 hours away in Ellensburg, Wash., as Eastern and Nichols produced similar statistics in 2007. The Eagles finished the season with an average of 462.3 yards of offense per game (sixth in FCS), including 295.4 passing (eighth).
Two-Time Team Captain Was Backup Behind NFL Standout Jon Kitna . . .
Before coming to EWU, Baldwin spent seven seasons and nine overall at CWU with positions as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. A 1996 graduate of CWU, he served seven years under head coach John Zamberlin, a former EWU assistant coach who later became head coach at Idaho State.
A former Wildcat quarterback from 1990-93, Baldwin passed along his knowledge to two of the greatest quarterbacks in CWU history en route to two of the school’s best-ever seasons. He was quarterbacks coach in 1994-95 when All-American Jon Kitna was in Ellensburg, leading CWU to a 10-3-1 record and the NAIA Championship in 1995. The Wildcats also advanced to the NAIA Playoffs in 1998.
Baldwin also coached All-American Zak Hill – now an assistant coach at EWU – as the Wildcats finished the 2002 season 11-1. Central ranked fifth in NCAA Division II before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
In six of his nine seasons at CWU, the Wildcats led their conference in passing and were at least second in scoring and total offense. In 2002, Central ranked second in NCAA Division II in passing offense (315 yards per game) and was fourth in total offense (465) and 11th in scoring (36.8).
As a player, Baldwin was a two-time team captain and completed 121-of-197 passes for 1,655 yards and eight touchdowns. His career completion percentage of .614 is a school record. In a 38-35 win versus Simon Fraser in 1991, he set single-game school records for attempts (52), completions (32), yards (467), total plays (66) and total yards (550). He had a 6-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left to give the Wildcats the win.
A year later, Baldwin came off the bench to lead CWU to the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in Columbia Football Association history. He completed 21-of-33 passes for 222 yards as the Wildcats scored 26 points in the final quarter to overcome a 28-3 deficit and defeat Eastern Oregon 29-28.
Nearly 20 years later, Baldwin found himself with a headset on in similar situations in the FCS Playoffs. In a 38-31 overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs against North Dakota State on Dec. 11, 2010, the Eagles put together a 13-play, 90-yard drive to knot the score with 23 seconds to play. Eastern, which won six games during the 2010 season when it trailed or was tied in the fourth quarter, was in a 19-0 hole in the NCAA Division I Championship Game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7, 2011. But Baldwin’s “calm intensity,” as his long-time assistant John Graham calls it, helped result in three EWU touchdowns in its final three possessions as the Eagles beat Delaware 20-19 for the national title.
Baldwin was a backup to Kitna in his final two seasons as a collegiate player, then spent a short time playing semi-pro football in Sweden. He played in a league that allowed only two American players each, and they were also required to serve as assistant coaches, thus giving Baldwin the new opportunity of creating plays and a game plan. Upon his return to the United States, Baldwin then coached Kitna for two more seasons, including the national title year in 1995. Kitna went on to play 15 seasons in the National Football League, with stops in Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas.
|College:||Central Washington '92|
|Position:||Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator|
After spending 13 seasons at Central Washington University, Graham enters his fifth year as EWU’s defensive coordinator, and his fourth as associate head coach. He coordinates EWU’s annual Coaches Golf Tournament, and also coached EWU’s linebackers in fall 2010 as EWU went on to win the NCAA Division I Championship.
Injures plagued the defense in 2011, but Eastern did hold perennial playoff participant Montana to 17 points and ended the season by holding Idaho State to 14 points. The Eagles featured first team All-Big Sky selections Matt Johnson (safety) and T.J. Lee (cornerback), with Johnson eventually getting drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. Johnson, who finished his Eastern career with 341 tackles to rank fifth in school history and eighth all-time in the Big Sky, missed Eastern’s last four games of his senior season with a biceps injury. He was one of seven starters on the defensive side who lost time because of injuries, including two lost for the season.
Eastern’s defense in 2010 ranked first in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in interceptions (total of 26) and turnovers gained (47), and finished 17th nationally in turnover margin (.80 less turnovers per game than its opponents) after ranking sixth in 2009 (1.25 less). The Eagles were also 26th in passing efficiency defense (134.8) and finished sixth nationally in red zone defense, as they allowed just 38 scores in 58 opponent trips inside the EWU 20-yard line. Eight of those scores were field goals, including two in the first half of the national championship game.
One of the linebackers Graham coached in 2010 was J.C. Sherritt, who won the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Sherritt was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He broke his own league and school records by finishing his senior season with 176 tackles, which ranks sixth in FCS history. He closed his career with a school-record 432 tackles in his 47-game career (35 as a starter) to rank second in Big Sky history and 10th all-time in the FCS.
In 2009, Eastern’s defense helped the Eagles finish sixth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in turnover margin, averaging 1.25 less turnovers per game than its opponents. Along the way, Eastern had a 16-0 shutout against Northern Colorado, which was EWU’s first shutout at Roos Field since 1983. Individually, Sherritt was named to all six All-America teams and was second in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award.
In Graham’s first season at the helm of the defense in 2008, Eastern overcame a rocky start to hold five-straight opponents from Oct. 11 to Nov. 15 to 19 points or fewer. That was something EWU has never done since becoming a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 1984. The Eagles closed the year by limiting Weber State’s high-powered offense to 26 points in a 33-26 Eagle victory over the league champions.
A graduate of nearby Reardan High School, Graham spent his final 12 seasons at Central as the defensive coordinator while coaching defensive backs and linebackers. He served as secondary coach in 1995, and in 1997 served as interim head coach for a three-month period. He also served as recruiting coordinator, travel coordinator and camp coordinator at different times during his tenure, as well as serving as an assistant to the athletic director in charge of fundraising and the department’s alumni golf tournament.
As a defensive coordinator, Graham helped coach Central to an 89-51 overall record with five conference championships and the NAIA title in 1995. As a defensive backs coach, two Wildcats earned All-America honors, three were conference defensive players of the year and 18 earned first team all-conference accolades.
Graham spent two previous seasons (1993-94) as head coach at DeSales High School in Walla Walla, Wash., where his teams compiled a 13-6 record overall and 8-2 mark in league play. In 1993, his team was undefeated in the league and advanced to the semifinals of the State B Playoffs as he earned Southeast District 9 coach of the year honors. He also served as athletic director and as an assistant basketball and track and field coach at DeSales. In addition, he spent one year (1992) as an assistant coach at Kent-Meridian High School in Kent, Wash.
Graham is a 1992 graduate of CWU, earning a bachelor of science degree in business education. He played as defensive back for the Wildcats in 1990 and 1991, earning honorable mention all-conference honors as a senior. In 1991, Graham had 30 tackles and three interceptions. Prior to enrolling at CWU, he played two seasons at Walla Walla CC where he earned first team all-conference honors as a defensive back and received his associate of arts degree in 1989.
Graham graduated from Reardan High School in 1987. He earned four letters each in football, basketball and track. He was a three-time all-league linebacker and two-time all-league quarterback, as well as serving as team captain and earning most inspirational honors. He was student body president at Reardan.
Graham was born on Feb. 7, 1969, in Ellensburg. His wife’s name is Becky and they have two sons, Andrew, 16, and Ty, 14, and a daughter named Sara.
His father, Dan Graham, was inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Hall of Fame in January 2008. The long-time head coach at Reardan High School directed his team to State B-11 titles in 2002 and 2003.
|College:||Eastern Washington '01|
|Position:||Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line/Academic Coord.|
Aaron Best enters his 16th year as an Eagle, including four years at Eastern (1996-99) as an All-America center and 11 previous seasons as an assistant coach (2000-2006, 2008-2011). An academic honor student as an undergraduate at Eastern, Best also handles the team’s academic coordinator duties.
As offensive coordinator for the third season in 2011, the Eagles ranked first in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing with an average of 368.5 per game, and were sixth overall in total offense (447.4) and 22nd in scoring (32.4). The offense featured four All-Americans, including center Chris Powers, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and wide receivers Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd. Mitchell and Edwards were consensus All-Americans, and Mitchell won the Walter Payton Award given by The Sports Network to the top player in the FCS.
However, Best’s job as offensive line coach was made significantly harder when a trio of starters were lost early in the season because of injuries, as well as three starts missed by Powers. In all, 10 players started along the offensive line – including a converted tight end and a converted defensive lineman – and only one offensive lineman (senior Gabriel Jackson) started all 11 games. Jackson and tackle Will Post earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors in 2011.
During EWU’s 2010 NCAA Division I championship season, Best helped Eastern’s offense rank 22nd in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in yards per game (397.1) and 18th in scoring (31.5). The Eagle offense featured a trio of All-Americans, including running back Taiwan Jones, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman and Powers.
Four of the offensive linemen he coached earned All-Big Sky honors – Powers (first team), Jackson (second team), senior guard Nikolai Myers (honorable mention) and freshman guard Steven Forgette (honorable mention). Eastern quarterbacks were sacked only 24 times, including just seven times in four playoff games.
In 2009, his first season as offensive coordinator, the Eagles finished ranked in the top 10 in four offensive categories in the FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2), scoring (8th, 33.7) and passing efficiency (4th, 154.5). Senior quarterback Matt Nichols, senior tight end Nathan Overbay and Jones all won All-America honors and first team All-Big Sky honors.
He coached a trio of All-Big Sky Conference offensive linemen in 2009 – senior tackle Chris Thomas, senior guard Ryan Forney and Powers – who all earned honorable mention accolades. In 2008, three earned honorable mention as senior center Charlie Wulff was joined by Thomas and sophomore tackle Brice Leahy.
Best spent the 2007 season as an offensive line specialist for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. Best helped the Argonauts win the Eastern Division championship with an 11-7 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Although Toronto was last in the league in total offense, Best’s offensive line ranked third in fewest sacks allowed with 40. Eastern Hall of Fame member Bill Diedrick Jr., was also an offensive coach for the Argonauts.
Best was a guest coach at Toronto’s training camp in May 2007, and then was asked to return as a full-time coach in July. In 2006, he attended the Calgary Stampeders training camp as a guest coach to offensive coordinator Steve Buratto, who graduated from the University of Idaho and spent the 2007 season coaching in Toronto.
In his previous stint at Eastern, Best had the opportunity to coach two All-Americans in the 2004 season and another in 2005. He was the school’s primary offensive line coach from 2002-2006 after previously helping coach that unit as a graduate assistant in 2001 and as a student assistant in 2000.
Matt Alfred earned All-America honors in 2005, and he was recognized on the All-Big Sky squad along with Kraig Sigler and Rocky Hanni. All five of Eastern’s starting offensive linemen earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004, including first team selections Michael Roos and Rocky Hanni. Both players went on to earn All-America honors, with Roos also being selected as the Lineman of the Year by I-AA.Org.
Roos played in the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, and was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He became the highest NFL draft choice in school history when he was chosen in the second round – 41st overall – by the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Including 35 starts to end his EWU career, Roos enters the 2011 season having made 179 consecutive starts as an offensive tackle. His last 144 starts have come as a Titan (two AFC playoff games, 112 regular season games, 29 pre-season contests and as a starter in his first-ever Pro Bowl on Feb. 8, 2009).
“I was very lucky to have the best offensive line coach possible in Aaron Best,” praised Roos in response to having his jersey retired at EWU on Oct. 24, 2009. “He taught all of us the meaning of hard work and perseverance.”
Eastern’s offensive lines helped the Eagles rank fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense in both 2004 and 2005. In 2005, the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game, and were 14th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier, the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth.
In 2003, Eastern averaged 380.0 yards per game and ranked 21st in the FCS in passing offense (247.3). In 2002, the Eagles finished third nationally in passing offense (317.6) and were sixth in total offense (447.6), a year after leading the FCS in total offense (514.5) and scoring (41.9) in 2001.
Best started 22-straight games at center for Eastern in 1998 and 1999, earning honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a junior and first team honors as a senior. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors his final season.
An outstanding student with a 3.3 grade point average, as a senior he was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII team and was selected to the FCS Athletic Directors Academic All-Star Team. Twice he was selected to the Big Sky All-Academic team. He received his bachelor’s degree in social science from EWU in 2001 and is currently working toward his master’s degree in physical education.
He was Eastern’s long-snapper for four seasons and was a backup lineman in 1997 when Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense (505.6 yards per game). That team finished 12-2 and advanced to the FCS “Final Four.” The Eagles were 31-16 in the four seasons Best played for the Eagles, and the Eagles had a 1,000-yard rusher each year. In all, Eastern has had a 1,000-yard rusher in 10 of the 15 seasons Best has been at EWU.
Best graduated in 1996 from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., where he had a 3.75 grade point average. He was co-captain his senior season as Curtis won the State AAA championship. His brother Tyler Best was a starting catcher for the Lewis-Clark State baseball team, which won its second straight NAIA World Series title in 2003.
Best was born Jan. 27, 1978, in Tacoma, Wash. He and the former Kim Walker were married on July 15, 2007, in Everett, Wash. Their first child, Tank William Best, was born April 12, 2008. Tank weighed in at 10 pounds, seven ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. They had their second child, Tenli Dakotah, in July 2010.
|College:||Eastern Washington '02|
|Position:||Safeties/Special Teams Coord.|
The 2012 season will be Jeff Schmedding’s eighth year on the Eastern Washington coaching staff. He will coach safeties for the second year after coaching linebackers the previous two seasons. He will also continue as coordinator of EWU special teams.
In 2010 and 2011, he coached All-America safety Matt Johnson, who earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors in both 2010 and 2011 before being drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. In the same time frame, Schmedding has also groomed a pair of talented safeties who return as seniors for the 2012 season – Jeff Minnerly (honorable mention All-Big Sky in 2010 and 2011) and Allen Brown. Schmedding also coached cornerbacks in 2011, a group which included first team All-Big Sky selection T.J. Lee. In 2010, Eastern led the NCAA Championship Subdivision in interceptions with 26 as EWU won the NCAA Division I title.
On special teams, punter Jake Miller earned Freshman All-America accolades in 2011 after finishing with a 44.26 average per kick, which nearly set a school record. Also, kick coverage specialist Darriell Beaumonte earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2010 and second team recognition in 2011.
The linebackers Schmedding coached in 2009 included junior J.C. Sherritt, who was named to all six FCS All-America teams and was second in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS. He set school and Big Sky records with 170 total tackles as he led the FCS with an average of more than 14 stops per game. Sherritt would go on to win the Buck Buchanan Award in 2010.
Schmedding coached safeties in 2007 – including two-time All-Big Sky performer Bryan Jarrett. He previously worked with linebackers (2005) and the secondary (2004) as a graduate assistant in his first two seasons at EWU.
He graduated in 2002 from Eastern with his bachelor’s degree in health education and a minor in physical education/coaching. He was a health and fitness teacher at University High School in Spokane Valley for two years, and coached football. He was defensive coordinator and coached linebackers for the Titans in 2002 and 2003.
While he was an EWU undergraduate, he also did his student teaching at U-Hi in 2001 and coached football. In 1999 and 2000 he coached the defensive line, and in 2001 he coached linebackers. The Titans were Greater Spokane League champions in 2000. He also helped coach track and field from 2002-2004.
Schmedding graduated in 1996 from University High School where he was a standout wrestler and football player. He was the runner-up at the State 3A Wrestling Championships in the 215-pound division.
He and his wife Kristine were married in July 2006. Their son, Jack Conrad Schmedding, was born on Oct. 27, 2009 – conveniently between EWU’s victories over Montana State on Oct. 24 and Portland State on Oct. 31. A second son, Blake David Schmedding, was born on Jan. 27, 2012.
|College:||Central Washington '03|
|Position:||Defensive Linemen/Recruiting Coordinator|
Having seen both sides of the experience see-saw in his first three seasons as Eastern’s defensive line coach, Ryan Sawyer enters his fifth season as an assistant in Eastern Washington’s program. This is also his fourth season as recruiting coordinator for the 2010 NCAA Division I champions.
Three of his defensive linemen earned All-Big Sky honors in 2011, including two-time All-America tackle Renard Williams. Tackle Charles Moetului and end Paul Ena earned honorable mention, with Ena returning for his senior season in 2012. The Eagles finished with 27 sacks in 11 games.
In 2010, an experienced defensive line helped Eastern lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in turnovers gained (47) and finished with 33 sacks in 15 games. The Eagles were also sixth nationally in red zone defense, as they allowed just 38 scores in 58 opponent trips inside the EWU 20-yard line. Eight of those scores were field goals, including two in the first half of the national championship game. Williams earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors, and senior tackle Tyler Jolley received honorable mention.
Sawyer’s defensive line had three new starters in the lineup in 2009, but Williams – the lone returning starter – earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors after finishing the season with 9 1/2 sacks. Senior Jacob Kragt earned honorable mention from the league as the Eagles finished with 29 total sacks and ranked sixth in the FCS in turnover margin (plus 1.25 per game).
In Sawyer’s first season on the staff in 2008, senior Greg Peach won the Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Peach was honored on five different All-America teams and was the Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP after finishing with a school-record 18 sacks as a senior. Sawyer also coached second team All-Big Sky selections Lance Witherspoon and Jason Belford – also seniors. Eastern’s defense overcame a rocky start to hold five-straight opponents from Oct. 11 to Nov. 15 to 19 points or fewer.
A four-year starter at defensive end for the Wildcats from 1996-99, Sawyer also spent the 2007 season as CWU’s defensive line coach under current Eagle coaches John Graham (defensive coordinator at both EWU and CWU) and Beau Baldwin (head coach at both schools). Sawyer also served as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Prior to spending 2003-07 as owner of a residential painting business in Kent, Wash., he spent three previous seasons at CWU as a student assistant wide receiver coach (2001-2002) and as a tight end/offensive line coach (2000). In 2002, he coached three wide receivers who earned all-conference honors, including All-American Brian Potucek, as Central finished the season 11-1.
Sawyer earned second team all-conference honors in 1998 during a streak in which he made 36-straight starts for the Wildcats. He earned his bachelor of science degree in individual studies in spring 2003, with an emphasis on studies in health and coaching.
Sawyer was born Aug. 27, 1977. He was married on March 12, 2011, to the former Heidi Ramm. They had their first child, Colton Thomas, on Oct. 11, 2012 -- just two days before the sixth-ranked Eagles played at No. 2 Montana State.
|College:||Montana State University '04|
|Position:||Wide Receivers/Pro Football Liaison|
Junior Adams, a former All-America wide receiver at Montana State, enters his fourth season as coach of Eastern’s talented and highly-productive corp of wide receivers. He also serves as Eastern’s liaison with professional football scouts.
Adams has also received multiple grants as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program. Those grants have given him the opportunity to work at summer training camps with several National Football League coaching staffs – the Oakland Raiders (2010), Indianapolis Colts (2011) and Minnesota Vikings (2012).
Entering the 2012 season at EWU, Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman have all earned All-America accolades and have 1,000-yard seasons in their careers. That trio has combined for 99 games worth of experience (69 starts), and have collective totals of 405 catches for 5,475 yards and 56 touchdowns. There is still one season left to play for Edwards and Herd, and a pair for Kaufman after he received an injury redshirt in 2011.
Edwards earned first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America accolades on seven different teams, and was a first team All-Big Sky selection, after catching a school-record 95 passes for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Herd caught 67 passes for 1,022 yards and seven scores as a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection. Kaufman redshirted the 2011 season as an injury hardship case, but earned first team All-America and first team All-Big Sky honors after catching 76 catches for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore when he helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title.
In his first season at EWU in 2009, Adams coached a group of experienced receivers that featured senior All-American Aaron Boyce. Boyce was injured in the middle of the season, but eventually earned second team All-Big Sky honors along with senior Tony Davis. Boyce finished second in school history in receptions (222), yards (3,330) and touchdown catches (29), and Davis finished his career third in catches (213) and fourth in yards (2,566). In part because of Boyce’s injury, Edwards, Herd and Kaufman played significantly in 2009, and that paid dividends in 2010.
Adams originally attended and played at Oregon State, and then transferred to Montana State where he made an immediate impact for head coach Mike Kramer, who was head coach at Eastern from 1994-98. In 2001, Adams earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors as both a wide receiver and return specialist. He averaged 19.0 yards per punt return, with three touchdowns in a total of 20 returns. One of his touchdowns was an 84-yard return against Eastern in a 48-38 victory over the Eagles at Albi Stadium in Spokane on Oct. 6, 2001. He caught 40 passes for 652 yards and six touchdowns for the 5-6 Bobcats.
As a senior, he caught 66 passes for 983 yards and eight touchdowns to earn All-America honors. He broke a Big Sky Conference record when he averaged 60.5 yards per reception (two catches for 121 yards) against Weber State. He helped MSU to a 7-5 overall record as the Bobcats finished 5-2 in the Big Sky Conference to earn a piece of the league title. He scored the winning touchdown in a 10-7 victory over rival Montana at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula that ended MSU’s 16-game losing streak versus the Grizzlies. Earlier in the season, he caught 11 passes for 181 yards in a 45-28 loss at Washington State.
Adams remained at MSU to serve as a wide receivers and returns coach under Kramer, and then spent the 2007 season in the same capacity at Prosser (Wash.) High School. He helped head coach Tom Moore finish the season 14-0 and win the WIAA State 2A title. Adams coached the 2008 season at Tennessee-Chattanooga before joining EWU’s program.
A native of Fremont, Calif., he enjoyed an outstanding prep career at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., where he rushed for 3,385 yards and scored 53 touchdowns in three seasons. After he graduated in 1998, Adams redshirted at Oregon State in the fall. He played two seasons for head coach Dennis Erickson and was a member of the 2000 Pacific 10 Conference championship team and played in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.
A 1998 graduate of Amador Valley High School in California, his full name is Alton J. Adams Jr. He was born on Oct. 20, 1979, in Fremont, Calif., and will turn 33 the day Eastern hosts Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012.
|College:||Central Washington '04|
The coach of the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 2011, Zak Hill enters his fourth season as Eastern’s full-time quarterbacks coach after serving as a student assistant coach for the Eagles in 2004 and 2005.
He spent the 2010 season teaching Southern Methodist University transfer Bo Levi Mitchell how to play within EWU’s offense, and the results were sensational. After leading Eastern to a national title in 2010, Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. He led EWU to a 19-7 record in two years – the most wins in back-to-back seasons of any starter in school history.
In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, which ranks 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history.
In 2010, Mitchell was selected as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Division I Championship Game, as EWU won the national title with a come-from-behind 20-19 win over Delaware. Mitchell completed 59 percent of his passes to finish with 3,496 yards, a school-record 37 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions as a junior.
Most importantly, Mitchell was 13-2 as a starter at Eastern in 2010. Six times Eastern rallied for victories when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter, and most of the time, it was Mitchell who led the Eagles back from the depths of despair. In addition, Eastern was 3-0 in games when All-America running back Taiwan Jones did not play, and Mitchell had 11 touchdowns and 932 total passing yards in those games. He directed Eastern on 11 touchdown drives of at least 63 yards in those three games, including three in the national championship game.
In 2009, Hill coached record-breaking senior quarterback Matt Nichols, who finished fourth in the voting for the Payton Award given to the top player in the FCS, and was also the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career. Nichols earned prestigious first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association, as well as three other All-America honors.
Nichols broke 14 school records and six Big Sky Conference marks in his 47-game career (45 as a starter) before playing in the East-West Shrine Game and signing a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He passed for 3,830 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior, giving him a total of 12,616 yards and 96 touchdowns in his career. His career yardage total ranks sixth in FCS history and his touchdown total is 10th.
A record-breaking quarterback himself from 1999-2003 at Central Washington, Hill spent the previous three seasons as a coach at Hillsboro High School in Oregon. After two seasons as offensive coordinator, Hill took over as head coach and led the Spartans to a 6-5 record in 2008 to advance to the first round of the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Class 5A playoffs.
Prior to that, he served as an offensive assistant under EWU offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin in the 2004 and 2005 seasons when the Eagles had a collective 16-9 record, won a pair of Big Sky Conference titles and advanced to the NCAA Championship Subdivision Playoffs both years. Among the quarterbacks he helped coach was Erik Meyer, who won the Payton Award in 2005.
Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin was quarterbacks coach at Central during Hill’s freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. In 38 career games at Central, Hill re-wrote the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record books. En route to breaking more than 20 league records, he passed for 8,882 career yards (233.7 average per game) while completing 60.2 percent of his passes with 76 touchdown passes. He had 11 total games with more than 300 yards passing and 24 with at least 200.
After redshirting in 1998, he played seven games as a freshman in 1999 as Central finished 4-5. He earned All-Columbia Football Association honors in 2000 as Central was 5-5, but a knee injury limited him to two games in the 2001 season.
In 2002, Hill led Central to an 11-1 record as the Wildcats ranked fifth in NCAA Division II before losing in the first round of the playoffs. He passed for 2,694 yards in nine games, completing 209-of-308 passes for a school and league-record .679 completion percentage. He had 22 touchdowns, was intercepted only seven times and had a passing efficiency rating of 160.4. He was a third team All-America selection (Football Gazette) and earned a trio of All-Region awards.
As a sixth-year senior in 2003, Central was the preseason No. 1 team in NCAA Division II as selected by Sports Illustrated, but the Wildcats finished just 6-4. He passed for 2,325 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 187-of-320 passes with nine interceptions. For the second-straight year, he earned first team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors.
Hill was a 1998 graduate of Prairie High School in Battle Ground, Wash., where he lettered twice in football and three times in baseball while accumulating a 3.73 grade point average. He was team captain as a junior and senior, and twice earned all-league honors. He played football for his father, Butch Hill, who is a member of the Hall of Fame at Central Washington. His father was a two-time All-America pitcher at Central with 17 career victories (1967-68), and also played quarterback for four seasons. He passed for 2,210 yards and accounted for 24 touchdowns (13 passing and 11 rushing).
Hill was born Sept. 14, 1979, in Portland, Ore., and will turn 33 during Eastern’s bye week in the 2012 season. He and his wife Hollie were married on July 14, 2007.
With lots of ties regionally, Josh Fetter enters his second season as coach of Eastern’s linebackers. He also coordinates Eastern’s summer camps program.
In 2011, he coached a unit that featured 2010 second team All-Big Sky Conference selection Zach Johnson. Johnson missed most of the 2011 season with a chronic knee injury, but he was granted a sixth year by the NCAA and will be a senior in 2012.
Previous coaching stops for Fetter, a former University of Idaho team captain and 1996 graduate, have included Central Washington, Idaho State and Portland State. While at Central, he coached alongside several current Eagle coaches, including Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. At ISU, he coached with fellow Eastern assistant Brian Strandley and former Eagle assistant and Idaho State head coach John Zamberlin.
Besides Baldwin, defensive coordinator/associate head coach John Graham also coached with Fetter at Central from 1996-2000, as well as Strandley from 1997-2000. Current Eagle coaches Ryan Sawyer and Zak Hill were players at the time.
Fetter spent the 2010 season at Idaho State under Zamberlin, a former Eastern assistant coach and head coach at Central Washington. He and Strandley, who was Fetter’s teammate at Idaho, were defensive line coaches for the Bengals.
Before getting the job at ISU, Fetter was going to be defensive coordinator in the 2010 season at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Prior to that, he spent four seasons as defensive line coach at PSU.
In the 2009 season, two of his Viking linemen earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors, and in 2007, all three of his regular starters were all-league. In 2006, PSU led the Big Sky in turnover margin, passing efficiency defense, sacks per game, tackles for loss, third-down defense, fourth-down defense and red-zone defense.
Fetter also coached five seasons at Western State in Gunnison, Colo., where he was defensive coordinator, strength and conditioning coach and held the title of assistant head coach.
From 1996-2000 he was at Central, including the final four seasons under Zamberlin as defensive ends coach. He coached defensive tackles in 1996, his first season coaching after graduating from the University of Idaho with a degree in general studies.
While at Idaho, Fetter was a two-year starter and lettered four seasons for the Vandals. As a senior he was voted as a team captain and won Idaho’s most inspirational player award.
Fetter was born Dec. 6, 1972, in Tacoma, Wash., he and his wife, Jahnna, have a son, Michael (6), a daughter, Delani (4) and a second daughter, Laci, born on the first day of preseason practices on Aug. 10, 2011.
|Position:||Tight Ends/Offensive Tackles|
Former Idaho defensive lineman Brian Strandley has returned to the Eastern football coaching staff, but for the first time in his career, he is on the other side of the ball as EWU’s tight ends and offensive tackles coach.
After spending the 2006 season as defensive line coach at Eastern, Strandley moved on to Idaho State to serve under former EWU assistant and Central Washington University head coach John Zamberlin. Strandley spent four seasons there as the school’s defensive coordinator. After the ISU coaching staff was let go after the 2010 season, Strandley coached defensive linemen in 2011 at Eastern Illinois.
Prior to his single year at EWU in 2006, Strandley spent nine seasons as a defensive coach under Zamberlin at CWU. And having also lettered four years from 1991-94 at Idaho as a defensive lineman, his entire collegiate career until now has been on the defensive side.
“For his entire coaching career he’s been on the defensive side – and even as a coordinator – and that’s why we’re excited to have him on our offensive staff,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who was a high school teammate and fellow assistant at CWU and EWU with Strandley. “The wealth of experience he brings into our offensive staff room and to the tight end position is unbelievable. It’s always nice to get a perspective of what the other side is trying to do to you, what they are thinking and how you attack it. He already has helped us in those regards.”
Baldwin was a fellow assistant at CWU with Strandley from 1997-2002, as well as at EWU in 2006. One of Strandley’s Idaho teammates was Josh Fetter, who is now linebackers coach at Eastern and was previously on the staff at ISU in 2010. Strandley was also on the CWU staff with current EWU defensive coordinator John Graham.
“I’ve been fortunate to have known him since I was about 14 years old,” said Baldwin of his former teammate at Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. “I know the person he is and I’ve gotten to coach with him over the years. I know what he’ll bring to our office and the overall workmanlike attitude he has. He’ll do an incredible job with those tight ends and in anything else outside the realm of coaching, like recruiting.”
Strandley coached the leading tackler in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 2010 when Idaho State’s A.J. Storms had 146 (13.27 per game). As a team, ISU ranked 40th in the FCS in takeaways with 23.
In 2009 at ISU, despite a second-straight year of massive injuries, ISU’s defense was impressive. The Bengals allowed just 12 points against national runner-up Montana, and had 26 takeaways for the season -- the most since the 2004 season when ISU had 30.
In 2008, ISU’s pass defense allowed 112 yards or less in three of the final four games of the season. In his first year with the school, the Bengal defense scored five touchdowns on the year, including game-changing fumble returns on back-to-back drives in a win over Portland State. In all, ISU nearly doubled their takeaways (23, up from 12 in 2006), and they increased their totals in sacks, tackles for loss, passes defended, and forced fumbles. Seven players earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors, including three defensive linemen coached by Strandley.
In his lone season at EWU in 2006, the youthful Eagles finished 3-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference. He coached All-Big Sky honorable mention selections Greg Peach, who went on to win the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Strandley was hired at CWU when John Zamberlin - a former EWU assistant coach from 1992-94 - took over as head coach in 1997. He helped the Wildcats compile a 57-36 record in nine seasons, including an 8-2 record in the 2005 season. Central won its last seven games and was undefeated in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Strandley was Idaho's 1993 defensive captain, and finished his career with 101 tackles. When he was a junior, the Vandals advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (then known as I-AA), and in 1994, Idaho led FCS in rushing defense (65.3 yards per game). He helped Idaho to a 35-14 record, three playoff berths and one Big Sky Conference title in four seasons under head coach John L. Smith, who is now head coach at Arkansas.
Included were three victories in four games versus Eastern. Idaho lost to the Eagles 34-31 in overtime his freshman season, but then won the next three games by a combined score of 127-46. He had seven tackles, a sack and a pass broken up in four career games versus EWU.
After he graduated from Idaho, Strandley coached at Potlatch, Idaho, High School where he served as defensive coordinator and head junior varsity coach.
He's a 1990 graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. Strandley lettered in football and baseball, earning All-State honors as a defensive tackle when he and Baldwin led Curtis to the State AAA title in 1989. Eagle offensive line coach Aaron Best is also a Curtis grad (1996), and helped lead his school to a State title in 1995.
Strandley was born June 7, 1971, in Tacoma, Wash. He and his wife, Erika, have a two-year-old daughter named Brianna.
|College:||Central Washington '99|
Cherokee Valeria, a former college teammate of Eastern head football coach Beau Baldwin, has been hired as EWU’s new cornerbacks coach. He will also coordinate travel for the Eagles.
A member of Central Washington University’s 1995 team which won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) football title, Valeria brings seven years of collegiate coaching experience to Eastern. Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State.
Valeria has had a player rank among the nation's top 30 in interceptions in four of his last six years as a position coach, dating back to his two-year stint as coach at Central Washington. He has coached three all-conference players at the college level, including a pair who received all-region recognition and one preseason All-American.
“I’ve known Cherokee since the early 90’s, but this will be my first year coaching with him,” said Baldwin. “Everybody I’ve talked to at every place he’s coached, have just raved about what he has brought their program. He’s been praised not only with his coaching of cornerbacks, but in the office with recruiting and his knowledge of computers. There are so many things behind the scenes that take place, and he brings a lot of those skills we need. He’s going to strengthen our office in a lot of different ways.”
Valeria coached defensive backs at SEMO, which finished the 2011 season 3-8 after advancing to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs the year before. The school’s defense ranked 23rd in the FCS in passing defense, allowing just 182.7 yards per game. He also served as assistant recruiting coordinator and was the team’s pro football liaison.
A year earlier and coached by 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year winner Tony Samuel, the Redhawks lost to EWU 37-17 on Dec. 4, 2010, in the first round of the FCS Playoffs at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Valeria spent the 2010 season as Director of Football Operations at Cal Poly, which is one of four new schools joining the Big Sky Conference in 2012. He was that school’s pro liaison, and also worked with the defensive staff for the 7-4 Mustangs, who ranked 14th in FCS in rushing defense. Valeria also started the Mustang Pride program, helping Cal Poly football players reach out to the local community.
Prior to working at Cal Poly, Valeria spent three seasons as cornerbacks coach at Idaho State under John Zamberlin, a former EWU assistant and former head coach at CWU. Valeria coached D.J. Clark of the Carolina Panthers during his time with the Bengals football program. Clark earned All-Big Sky honors twice and finished third in ISU history with 15 interceptions. Valeria developed and implemented a study hall program that helped produce 17 Big Sky All-Academic players in his three seasons as academic coordinator at ISU.
Valeria was also the cornerbacks coach in 2005 and 2006 under Zamberlin at Central Washington, where Baldwin also served as an assistant coach from 1994-2002. Current Eastern defensive coordinator John Graham was on the coaching staff at Central when Valeria was there. Valeria coached with new EWU tight ends coach Brian Strandley at both ISU (2007-09) and CWU (2005).
In 2005, the Wildcats won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title after going 8-2 overall and undefeated in league play. Central Washington's defense ranked 11th nationally in turnover margin, with both of Valeria's cornerbacks (Brandon Kennedy and Josiah Wilfong) earning first team All-GNAC honors that year. Kennedy received third team all-region honors and finished ranked third in CWU history with 14 interceptions. Wilfong earned second team all-region honors in 2005.
Valeria has also coached in minor league professional football, including the Everett Hawks of the National Indoor Football League in 2004. He was named the 2004 Northwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year by Minor League Football News after helping lead the West Sound Saints to the Northwest Football League (NWFL) title game. In 2003, he coached the Eastside Hawks in the NWFL.
From 1998-2004, Valeria coached two seasons each at Cedarcrest and Ellensburg high schools in Washington State.
As a player, Valeria was a wide receiver at Central Washington from 1993-97, and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1995 NAIA National Championship. He graduated with a degree in biology in 1999 and the 1995 Central team was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Baldwin played for the Wildcats from 1990-93 before beginning his coaching career in 1994 at CWU.
A 1993 graduate of Waiakea High School in Hilo, Hawaii, Valeria was born June 13, 1975 in Honolulu. His given first name is Brandon, but he goes by Cherokee because of his Native American/Italian descent. His mother is originally from Missouri and is a member of the Cherokee Indian tribe, and his grandfather was in the military stationed in Hawaii. He has a son named Ayosgi Uwasa (which means “Last Warrior” in Cherokee) and a daughter named T’Kia Li (which means “Message from God”).
|College:||Sacramento State '06|
|Position:||Running Backs/Video Coord.|
Former University of Idaho player Kiel (pronounced Kyle) McDonald has taken over as coach of running backs for the Eagles. He will also assume the role as video coordinator.
McDonald was a graduate assistant coach for Dennis Erickson at Arizona State University in 2011. He was an offensive quality control coach for the Sun Devils, who finished 6-7 and lost to Boise State in the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas, Nev.
Prior to that, McDonald was an intern working with the secondary in 2010 for the San Francisco 49ers, and was defensive backs coach and strength coach that same year for San Jose City College. He also previously worked as strength coach at Marshall Performance and Fitness in San Jose.
“It’s great to have his young energy in the office,” said Baldwin. “He worked with the offensive line with Dennis Erickson, but also worked with the running backs as well. As a graduate assistant you wear a lot of hats. He has a presence in both Sacramento and the Bay Area, so that will help us in recruiting. And he’s hungry – he’s less experienced but is ready to get going. He’s already making huge strides and doing great things with our running backs in terms of the relationships he’s building. We’re excited about what he brings to our staff.”
After playing the 2005 season for EWU’s fellow Big Sky Conference member Sacramento State, McDonald played as a cornerback for Erickson in the 2006 season at Idaho. He had 31 tackles (two for loss), one interception and five passes broken up as Idaho finished 4-8.
While at Sacramento State, he played in 10 games in the 2005 season. A Big Sky All-Academic selection, McDonald finished his junior season at Sac State with 17 tackles, one interception and four passes broken up before graduating with honors (Cum Laude) in the spring of 2006.
He also played at Sacramento City College, earning honorable mention All-NorCal Conference honors as a sophomore. He graduated from Thomas B. Doherty HS in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2001, lettering in football, hockey, baseball and track. He was a first team all-league selection in track as a senior, with a time of 10.6 in the 100 meters.
McDonald was born on April 22, 1983.
|College:||Central Washington '06|
|Position:||Head Strength & Conditioning Coach|
Nate Brookreson was promoted to head strength & conditioning coach in October 2010 after spending two and a half years as an assistant at Eastern. Brookreson's primary duties are working with the football and volleyball programs, while supervising the training of nearly 350 student-athletes.
During Brookreson’s first season working with the EWU football program, the team captured the 2010 FCS National Championship, as well as a share of the Big Sky Conference Championship. In addition, the women’s basketball team he worked with earned a regular season Big Sky Conference title in 2009-10.
While at EWU, Nate has trained 17 first team All-Big Sky Conference performers, 11 athletes who have gone on to play professionally in their sport, eight FCS All-Americans, four Big Sky Conference Players of the Year, two Big Sky Conference Champions, two FCS National Players of the Year, one CFL Western Division Rookie of the Year, two NFL draft picks and a NCAA FCS National Championship team. In addition, he trains former Eagle players preparing for the NFL draft, including 2012 fourth-round draft choice Matt Johnson.
Brookreson came to Eastern from the University of Georgia, where he worked as a graduate assistant for one season, assisting primarily with baseball, softball, and women's tennis. All three teams placed in the top 25 nationally, with the baseball team finishing as the runner up to Fresno State at the College World Series. He also served as a sports performance coach at Velocity Sports Performance in Redmond, Wash., and as an intern at Cris Carter's FAST Program in Coral Springs, Fla.
Brookreson played wide receiver for Central Washington University from 2001-05, and was selected as an All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference performer twice (first team in 2005 and second team in 2004). He was also a four-time GNAC All-Academic selection. While at CWU, he played under current Eagle coaches Beau Baldwin, John Graham and Ryan Sawyer.
Brookreson graduated from Central Washington in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He is certified (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and Functional Movement Systems (FMS Level 1) and also by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (SCCC).
Brookreson was born Sept. 4, 1982. He married Kelsey Lynn Brookreson in July of 2007, and the couple welcomed their first child, Blaise, on March 11, 2012.