February 1, 2012 in Sports

Familiar name and look for EWU football

By The Spokesman-Review

Eastern Washington unwrapped its package of football recruits Wednesday; this one has a Bowe on top.

The Eagles signed 20 players, including seven in the defensive secondary and 12 overall from California, including a quarterback who may remind many of departing Payton Award Winner Bo Levi Mitchell.

Bowe Merin, described by head coach Beau Baldwin as “similar in body type” to Mitchell and 2006 Payton winner Erik Meyer, “can make throws when things aren’t perfect around him.”

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Merin ran a no-huddle spread offense similar to Eastern’s at St. Mary’s of Stockton, Calif. “I’m preparing hard for college ball, and I feel I can fit into this system.”

Baldwin sees plenty of potential in Merin, who says he chose Eastern because “this is a coaching staff that knows how to win.”

Baldwin says Merin “Can throw on the run, has great moxie and character and carries himself well, and leads his teammates well,” Baldwin says. “He can make every throw we need to make.”

The Eagles already have two quarterbacks on the roster: junior-to-be Anthony Vitto and 2011 freshman redshirt Vernon Adams. Merin hopes to compete for the starting position or redshirt, depending on his progress in fall camp.

The biggest in-state recruit may be wide receiver Cooper Kupp out of Davis High School in Yakima. Kupp, a 6-2, 180-pound all-state selection, is the great-nephew of former EWU offensive tackle Jeff Kupp, who played for the Eagles from 1982-84.

Kupp’s grandfather, Jake Cupp, 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,” Baldwin says, “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.”

Kupp was one of just six in-state recruits. Others include Joe Hunt, a defensive lineman from Kennewick; guard Jerrod Jones of Arlington; linebacker Jordan Pulu of Federal Way; safety Jordan Thompson of Lacey; and safety Miquiyah Zamora of Pasco.

The accent for this class was on defense, acknowledges Baldwin, who picked up 12 on that side of the ball. “We really attacked the secondary, but filled a hole or two at every position.”

In so doing, the Eagles didn’t need to sign any junior college transfers; all 20 signees are high school seniors.

“The biggest factor it comes down to are the people,” Baldwin said. “The people in the football program and athletic department, the people at Eastern and the people in the Cheney/Spokane area sell this program more than anything.

“They are the people they meet on a day-to-day basis on a visit.”

Eastern was hurt by injuries last fall, but was able to finish 6-5 after an 0-4 start. Fourteen starters – seven on each side of the ball – suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup, including seven players lost for the season. Baldwin said several of the injured players will be sidelined for spring practice, but should be back at full strength in the fall.

Eastern will begin spring practice in late March. The Eagles return eight starters on each side of the ball.

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