EWU trio makes FCS All-Freshman team
Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:54 PM
Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 1:32 AM
A trio of Eastern Washington University football players – safety Jordan Tonani, return specialist Shaquille Hill, and quarterback Vernon Adams – have been selected to the College Sports Journal NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-Freshman team.
All three were in Eastern’s 2011 recruiting class and redshirted that fall before making their Eagle debuts in 2012. Tonani is a graduate of nearby Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., and Hill and Adams are both from California. Hill is from Stockton and attended Brookside Christian High School, and Adams is from Pasadena and graduated from Alemany HS.
All three players contributed significantly to EWU’s 11-3 record overall, Big Sky Conference Championship and the school’s march to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.
Tonani started seven games as an injury replacement for senior safety and fellow Ferris grad Jeff Minnerly. Tonani finished the year sixth on the team with 68 tackles and also had a team-leading three interceptions with five passes broken up and a fumble recovery. He was selected as a honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection.
Hill also earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors, and finished ranked third in the Big Sky and 17th in FCS with a 26.8 average per kickoff return. He had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Dakota on Sept. 6, and a non-scoring 93-yard return in the FCS Playoffs versus Illinois State.
Adams, who was recently named the FCS Freshman of the Year by College Sporting News, started nine games for the Eagles and helped direct the team to an 8-1 record in those starts. He 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.
Interestingly, that freshman trio were Eastern’s three nominees for ROOT Sports Players of the Week following EWU’s 55-17 romp past North Dakota. Hill earned won the Special Teams Player of the Week honor because of his 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Tonani had 11 tackles in his first career start against UND to earn the nomination, and Adams completed 12-of-15 passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns, and also rushed for 38 yards in his third career start.
The 63 freshmen selected by College Sports Journal are representative of the 63 scholarships allowed to teams that compete in FCS. The All-Freshman team was selected by a blue ribbon panel of FCS experts put together by College Sports Journal executive editor David Coulson and CSJ publisher and managing editor Chuck Burton. The College Sports Journal will announce its first All-America team, including offensive and defensive players of the year, coach of the year, lineman of the year and special teams player of the year on Thursday.