He split time at quarterback, but that was enough to impress the College Sporting News, as Eastern Washington University freshman Vernon Adams joined four other Eagles on the “Fabulous 50” NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America team.
Adams was selected as CSN’s Freshman of the Year after sharing the quarterback position with transfer Kyle Padron. Besides Adams, four other Eagles were selected to the All-America squad – wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, offensive tackle Will Post, junior cornerback T.J. Lee and senior kicker Jimmy Pavel.
Including honorable mention selections and player of the year winners, there were three coaches and 61 players selected to the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” squad. The players represented 43 teams and 12 conferences, with EWU leading the way with five honorees. Fifteen other teams had multiple players chosen. The Big Sky Conference surpassed all other leagues with 14 selections.
Adams ranked fourth in FCS in passing efficiency (160.80) in 2012, 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.
He concluded his freshman season by throwing for a school-record six touchdown passes in EWU’s 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. 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.
Kaufman, Post, Lee and Pavel have all earned All-America honors previously this season, joining senior defensive end Jerry Ceja. This is the second time Kaufman has been selected to the “Fabulous 50” squad, earning a spot after his sophomore season when EWU won the 2010 NCAA Division I title. Nicholas Edwards, a senior wide receiver this past season, was selected to the squad a year ago, and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell received honorable mention.
Adams will join Lee as EWU’s 2012 All-Americans who will return for the 2013 season. Kaufman, as well as Padron, have elected not to return for their senior seasons and will pursue professional opportunities instead.
The Eagles finished second in the league and seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game), as quarterbacks Vernon Adams and Padron combined 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. Both quarterbacks averaged at least 191.9 yards of total offense per game (Padron 229.8 and Adams 191.9).
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. Padron started the other five games and played six others as a sub, and completed 59.1 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,491 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions, and ranked 29th in FCS in passing yards per game (226.5).
In back-to-back games in the FCS Playoffs, each had a school-record six touchdown passes -- Padron versus Illinois State in the quarterfinals and Adams against Sam Houston State 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.
Besides being selected as the Freshman of the Year on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” All-America team, Adams was 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). His incredible scramble and touchdown throw against Sacramento State on Oct. 20 was also one of eight finalists for the GEICO Play of the Year.
Adams made his first career start in EWU’s 32-26 victory at Weber State on Sept. 22, 2012, and used his arm and his feet to lead EWU to a 20-3 halftime lead. The redshirt freshman led Eastern to scores on four of five drives in the first half, including a 75-yard touchdown mark on his first drive as an Eagle. He finished the game 7-of-12 for 75 yards, and ran five times for 62 yards, but missed most of the second half with cramping. Of his five rushes, four were for first downs; of his seven completions, four more resulted in EWU first downs.
One game later in his home starting debut, Adams atoned for a fourth-quarter fumble and interception by throwing two touchdown passes in the in the final 2:19 as the No. 7 Eagles rallied for a 32-26 victory over 21st-ranked Montana at Roos Field. As a result, Adams was selected as the Sports Network co-Freshman of the Week in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, the College Sports Journal co-Freshman of the Week and the ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week awarded by the Big Sky Conference. Eastern put together an 82-yard scoring drive to pull within two points with 2:19 remaining on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Brandon Kaufman. After EWU successfully recovered an onside kick, Eastern scored again on a 20-yard TD pass from Adams to Ashton Clark with 53 seconds to play. Adams completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start for EWU, and also added a team-leading 54 yards rushing. He accounted for 407 of EWU’s 447 yards of total offense. In the final quarter alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards and a pair of scores. Eastern scored the first time it had the ball on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, then led 14-7 in the second quarter on Kaufman’s 36-yard TD reception from Adams.
Later in the year, Adams repeated as ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for 356 yards of offense in seventh-ranked EWU’s 34-17 win versus No. 16 Cal Poly on Nov. 3. Adams completed 19-of-29 passes for 288 yards and had three touchdown tosses, and also rushed for 68 yards against the Mustangs. Eastern’s scoring drives in the game were of 81, 66, 74, 69, 41 and 83 yards.
More on Kaufman . . .
As he prepares for the NFL Draft in April, Brandon Kaufman will train in Orlando, Fla., along with fellow Eagle wide receiver Greg Herd, who was a senior in 2012. Kaufman is just 20 credits shy of graduating from EWU, and said he will continue to take classes this winter online. Kaufman and Herd are being represented by Cameron Foster and the Foster Easley Sports Management Group of Seattle.
Kaufman, who is from Denver, Colo., and is a 2009 graduate of Heritage HS, finished his 42-game career with 221 catches (third in school history, seventh in Big Sky history) for 3,731 yards (second all-time at EWU, fourth in the Big Sky and 19th in FCS) and 33 touchdowns (second in school history).
He earned the 2012 FCS Wide Receiver Award from College Football Performance Awards (CFPA), and was selected to All-America teams picked by College Sports Madness (first team), Beyond Sports College Network (first team), The Sports Network (second team) and Associated Press (second team), as well as the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” A-A squad. An All-American in 2010 as well, Kaufman was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection in both 2012 and 2010.
Kaufman broke the FCS record for single season receiving yards in EWU’s 45-42 loss in the FCS Playoffs to Sam Houston State on Dec. 15. He finished the season with 1,850 yards (93 receptions and 16 TD) to break the record of 1,712 previously held by Eddie Conti of Delaware in 1998. Kaufman averaged 19.9 yards per catch with a long of 93 yards, and ranked second in FCS in receiving yards per game (132.1) in 2012.
Kaufman finished the Sam Houston State game with nine catches for a career-high 215 yards and three touchdowns, with his yardage ranking fifth in school history. A week earlier, Kaufman broke the Big Sky Conference record for single season receiving yards during EWU’s 51-35 victory over Illinois State. He finished with nine catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and his 17-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave EWU a 38-17 lead and broke the previous Big Sky record of 1,525 set by Weber State’s Tim Toone in 2008. Earlier in the game, Kaufman broke the school record of 1,453 set by Eric Kimble in 2004.
On single season lists, Kaufman’s 93 catches ranks second in school history (behind the school-record 95 that teammate Nicholas Edwards had in 2011), fifth in the Big Sky and 28th in FCS. His 16 touchdowns are third all-time at EWU and his average of 19.9 yards per catch was fifth in EWU history. In his last four games of the season, Kaufman had 37 catches for 741 yards (20.0 per catch) with six scores. Kaufman went over the 100-yard mark 11 times in the 2012 season and 19 times in his career.
Because of hand and knee injuries requiring surgery, Kaufman received an injury redshirt in the 2011 season after playing in the first four games of the year. He caught 76 passes for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010 to help EWU to a 13-2 record and the NCAA Division I Championship.
More on Post . . .
Post earned four All-America honors in 2012, receiving recognition from the American Football Coaches Association (first team), Associated Press (first team) and Beyond Sports College Network (second team), as well as the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” A-A squad. The Eagles have now had 19 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades in the last 20 years (1993-2012) while winning 21 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2012), including Post in 2012.
Post started every game at right offensive tackle in 2012, with a total of 36 career starts in 45 games played. The first team All-Big Sky selection and team co-captain allowed just one sack in the regular season (opponents had a total of 24). He consistently graded out in the high 80’s and low 90's according to offensive line coach Aaron Best. The Eagles had a season-best 542 total yards versus Cal Poly on Nov. 3 and finished third in the Big Sky and 14th in FCS in total offense (442.0), seventh in FCS in passing offense (318.9 per game) and 17th in scoring offense (33.7).
The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Post is from Portland, Ore., and graduated from Southridge High School in 2008.
More on Lee . . .
Junior cornerback T.J. Lee earned All-America honors in 2012 from The Sports Network (second team), and was also honored on the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” A-A 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. The two-time first team All-Big Sky selection also 2 1/2 sacks, nine total tackles for loss, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
In the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs against Illinois State on Dec. 8, Lee had eight tackles, a forced fumble and two passes broken up. Versus Portland State on Nov. 17, he had eight tackles (one for loss) and broke-up three passes. He had nine tackles and a sack versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27, and eight tackles, a pass broken up and a forced fumble on a sack that he also recovered versus Weber State on Sept. 22. One game earlier against Washington State, he had six tackles and an interception, as the Eagle defense pitched a shutout in the second half and kept the Eagles in the game. His interception in the fourth quarter came at the Eastern 7-yard line and helped thwart one of two potential scoring drives for the Cougars late in the game.
Lee now has 140 tackles, three interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 2 1/2 sacks in his 34-game career (20 starts). 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.
More on Pavel . . .
Thanks to a high-percentage senior season, Pavel earned All-America honors from Beyond Sports College Network (first team), The Sports Network (second team), Associated Press (third team) and College Sports Madness (third team), and was also selected to the College Sporting News “Fabulous 50” A-A squad. He also earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors.
An impressive 17-of-19 kicking field goals in the 2012 season, Pavel ranked 25th in FCS with an average of 1.21 field goals per game. His .895 percentage was the best in FCS among kickers with at least 14 attempts. He made a 20-yard field goal against Illinois State on Dec. 8 to earn sole possession of EWU’s single season school record with 17 for the season. His 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 equaled the record of 16 set one season earlier by Mike Jarrett.
Pavel made kicks of 45 and 23 yards against Southern Utah on Oct. 27 to improve to 13-of-13 on the year, but missed his first attempt of the season on a 37-yarder that would have broken a 27-27 tie with 2:51 left in the game. His other miss was a 32-yarder in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs against Sam Houston State on Dec. 15.
Pavel, who handled kickoff duties in 2011 after transferring from Boise State University, took over placekicking duties from Jarrett, who made a school-record 16 field goals in just 18 attempts as a senior in 2011. Pavel missed his only attempt in the 2011 season, a 52-yarder. Thus, including a field goal Kevin Miller made earlier in the 2012 season, the Eagles have made 34 of 39 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 87.2 percent.
Pavel, who is from Molalla, Ore., and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2008, also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the final four games. He finished with a 41.2 average on 20 punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.