The initial NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America team for the 2012 season was released by College Sports Madness (collegesportsmadness.com), and three Eagles were named to the team.
Junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman was selected to the first team, senior defensive end Jerry Ceja was selected to the second team and senior kicker Jimmy Pavel was picked for the third team. Kaufman is from Denver, Colo., and graduated from Heritage High School in 2009, and Ceja is from Aurora, Colo., and graduated the same year from Grandview High School. Pavel, a transfer from Boise State, is from Molalla, Ore., and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2008.
A year ago, there were nine All-America teams selected, including those by the American Football Coaches Association (to be announced on Dec. 4), The Sports Network, Associated Press and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Others are College Sporting News, Phil Steele Publications, College Sports Journal and Beyond Sports College Network.
Kaufman has 65 catches for 1,270 yards (19.5 per catch) and 10 touchdowns thus far, including career highs of 10 catches for 192 yards versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. The first team All-Big Sky performer is coming off a nine-catch, 161-yard performance against Portland State on Nov. 17 in which he had two sensational, highlight-reel catches after tipped balls.
Kaufman has gone over the 100-yard mark eight times this season and 16 times in his career, including career highs of 11 catches for 201 yards (fifth-most in school history) versus Southern Utah on Oct. 27. The 2010 All-American leads the Big Sky and ranks fifth in FCS in receiving yards per game (115.5), and his 10 TD receptions are ninth in FCS.
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 now has 193 career catches (fifth in school history) for 3,151 yards (third) and 27 touchdowns (fourth).
A second team All-Big Sky selection, Ceja is 11th in FCS and is third in the league with an average of 0.82 sacks per game (total of nine). He has 34 total tackles this season with 11 for loss, and also has four quarterback hurries, two passes broken up and a pair of forced fumbles to help him equal the school record with six in his career.
Ceja is ninth all-time in career sacks with 20 1/2, and is only a half-sack from moving into eighth and 1 1/2 from seventh. Ceja had two sacks versus Montana State on Oct. 13, North Dakota on Oct. 6 and Weber State on Sept. 22. As a team, the Eagles are seventh in the league and 32nd nationally with an average of 2.36 per game.
Pavel, a first team All-Big Sky pick, made a 45-yard field goal against UC Davis on Nov. 10 to equal EWU’s single season record of 16 set last year by Mike Jarrett. The field goal also gives EWU 17 for the season, breaking the previous team record of 16 set last year.
An impressive 16-of-17 on the season, Pavel ranks fourth in FCS with an average of 1.45 field goals per game. His .941 percentage is the best in FCS among kickers with at least 11 attempts this season. 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.
Pavel, who handled kickoff duties a year ago, took over this season for Mike 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 this season, the Eagles have made 33 of 37 field goal attempts the last two seasons for 89.2 percent.
Pavel has also assumed part of EWU’s punting duties the last three games, and currently has a 42.4 average on 12 punts with three downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.