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EWU spring football: Tight ends block first for Eagles

EWU championship in 2010 was fifth-best moment in Big Sky Conference history. (File)
EWU championship in 2010 was fifth-best moment in Big Sky Conference history. (File)

For the tight ends at Eastern Washington, less is more.

Assistant coach Brian Strandley has just three healthy players this spring, but that means a better chance to fine-tune their contribution to the Eagles running game.

The bar is set high, as Eastern averaged 5.3 yards per rush last season, but Strandley said his group is “doing some good things, including focusing on the basics, especially our pad level.”

Practicing this spring are Jake Withnell, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior from Salem, Ore.; Terry Jackson II, a 6-4, 250-pound true junior from Sacramento; and Zach Wimberly, a 6-3, 240-pound redshirt sophomore from Tumwater, Wash.

Redshirt freshman William Lopez (6-5, 240, from Vancouver) was injured as spring drills began.

The rest, according to Jackson, are “trying to come out and compete, make our O-line better and make this running game as good as it can be.”

Says Strandley: “With the reps we’ve been able to get, it’s been a perfect situation, and I think it’s going get us a lot better this fall.”

Whether the tight ends will be more involved in the passing game remains to be seen. The Eagles lose Zack Gehring, who last year caught 19 balls for 200 yards and two scores. Far behind were Withnell (three catches for 9 yards), and Wimberly (two catches, 15 yards).

Together, the Eagles tight ends accounted for 224 out of the Eagles’ 5,247 receiving yards.

National title is No. 5 on Big Sky list

Eastern’s 2010 national FBS title has been selected as the fifth-best moment in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference, the league announced Thursday.

The Eagles have been recognized with six of the top 50 men’s moments, but the biggest moment came in January 2011 in Frisco, Texas, when they overcame a 19-point deficit to defeat Delaware 20-19.

“I think every year it’s going to mean more and more as you reflect back,” EWU coach Beau Baldwin said. “The further you get away from it, the more you appreciate that championship, the hard work that went into it and the way it was accomplished.”

Eastern has also earned two spots each on the list of 25 all-time women’s athletes and 25 all-time women’s moments in celebration of 25 years the league has sponsored women’s athletics.


Tickets to Saturday night’s Killin Dinner, Dance and Auction will be sold through today by telephone only, at 509-359-2463. Tickets are $100 each, and proceeds benefit areas of greatest need in Eastern Athletics. The event starts with a social hour and auction at 4:30 p.m., followed by the dinner, program/presentations/live auction and dancing. … Eastern will hold two more practices following the spring game, on April 29 and May 1. Both sessions begin at 4 p.m.