CHENEY -- Eastern Washington head coach football coach Beau Baldwin announced a group of 20 high school players who signed letters of intent on Wednesday.
With an emphasis on defensive backs, the Eagles also signed a high school quarterback – Bowe Merin from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif. He brings to three the current number of quarterbacks in Eastern’s program to replace graduated Walter Payton Award winner Bo Levi Mitchell.
“He has a lot of similarities in body type to Bo Levi Mitchell and (2005 Payton winner) Erik Meyer, and he can make throws when things aren’t perfect around him,” said Baldwin. “We’re really impressed and excited that he is our quarterback in this class.”
All-State wide receiver Cooper Kupp from Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., is the great-nephew of former Eastern offensive tackle Jeff Kupp (letterwinner from 1982-84). Cooper’s parents are both members of the Pacific Lutheran University Hall of Fame after his father Craig played quarterback there and played from 1990-91 in the National Football League. His mother, Karin, played soccer at PLU. In addition, Cooper’s grandfather, Jake Kupp, played 14 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1991.
“He’s going to be a huge factor for us at receiver because there is going to come a time in a year or two where we lose some of our receivers who have done some great things,” said Baldwin, whose team has a trio of 1,000-yard receivers returning for the 2012 season. “It’s going to be the next group that comes up and makes plays, and Cooper is going to be a big part of that.”
Another player signed with Eastern connections is All-State linebacker Jordan Pulu from Federal Way (Wash.) High School. Pulu’s older brother Andru Pulu redshirted as a defensive lineman for EWU last fall after transferring from the University of Washington.
Eastern dipped into California for many of its skill players, both on offense and defense. Other local products signed were safety Miquiyah Zamora from Chiawana High School in Pasco, Wash., and Joe Hunt from Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Wash.
“Every position required a hole or two to be filled, and we did a good job of that,” said Baldwin. “We covered a wide range, both offensively and defensively. More specifically, the secondary was an area where we signed a few players.
“When you sign 70-75 percent of the players you bring onto campus, you feel pretty good,” he added. “We feel strongly about signing the players we wanted. It’s great.”
Baldwin said the combination of having a new red Sprinturf surface and having won the NCAA Division I title in 2010 helped, but wasn’t the overriding factor in signing players.
“That helps a lot and some of those accomplishments might have helped even more this year than a year ago,” he explained. “It sort of sunk in and was sitting in the minds of high school players for a year. But the biggest factor it comes down to are the people."