A pair of Eastern Washington University football players with eligibility remaining have decided not to return to EWU for their senior seasons in 2013, Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin has confirmed.
Two-time All-America wide receiver Brandon Kaufman signed with an agent on Sunday (Jan. 6) and will pursue opportunities to play professional football. Baldwin also said quarterback Kyle Padron, who transferred to EWU last fall from Southern Methodist University, is not enrolled for winter quarter and presumably will pursue his own opportunities at the professional level.
“We respect their decisions and wish them nothing but the best in the future,” said Baldwin, whose 2012 team finished 11-3 overall and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. “They both have the talent it takes to succeed at the next level, and we will be excited to see their progress. We are saddened not to have them back for next fall, but we are excited about the opportunities it provides other players in our program, and future players as well.”
As he prepares for the NFL Draft in April, 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.
Besides Herd, several other Eagles who were seniors in 2012 are also pursuing opportunities in professional football. They include wide receiver Nicholas Edwards, who is expected to play in the Casino Del Sol College Football All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 11. Linebacker Zach Johnson, whose twin brother Matt Johnson was drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys a year ago, is also a pro prospect, as well as a trio of 2012 FCS All-Americans -- offensive tackle Will Post, defensive end Jerry Ceja and kicker Jimmy Pavel.
The trio of Kaufman, Herd and Edwards combined for 139 games worth of experience at Eastern (103 starts), and had collective totals of 601 catches for 8,713 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Kaufman and Padron are the second and third EWU players in the past three years to depart early for the pro ranks. Running back Taiwan Jones left after his junior season in 2010 and was a fourth-round draft choice by the Oakland Raiders. He has rushed 24 times for 94 yards, caught four passes for 36 yards, returned 10 kickoffs for an 18.7 average and has 17 total tackles in 24 career games for the Raiders.
A fourth former Eagle running back, Jesse Chatman, also left early after the 2001 season and spent seven seasons in the NFL with three teams as an undrafted free agent. Chatman was a NCAA non-qualifier out of high school, but was on track toward completing his degree to enable him to receive a fourth year of collegiate eligibility.