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Eastern Washington University Football

Eastern Washington focuses on offense during signing day, inks 23 players total

Eastern Washington Eagles head coach Aaron Best looks on during a game against the Idaho Vandals in the second half at Roos Field on Sat. Sept. 30, 2023 in Cheney, Wash.  (James Snook/The Spokesman-Review)
By Dan Thompson The Spokesman-Review

Eastern Washington replenished a few key spots on defense but mostly loaded up on offensive players, who comprised 15 of the 23 football players the Eagles officially signed Wednesday.

The Eagles added five offensive linemen, four wide receivers and four tight ends, as well as a running back and a quarterback when the three-day early signing period opened. The Eagles also signed three safeties, two defensive ends, two linebackers and a cornerback.

Five of the signees are transfers. That includes graduate transfer McKel Broussard, a safety who spent the past five years in a reserve role at UTEP. The other four all come from California junior colleges: offensive lineman David Shinn (Mt. San Jacinto), wide receiver Jaylen Garrison (Fresno City), wide receiver Noah Cronquist (Moorpark) and tight end Landon Cooper (Butte).

The signing of Cooper gives Eastern four players from Butte College, as he joins tight end Austin York and offensive linemen Mason Buttel-Strong and Aidan Corning.

Assuming all eligible tight ends from last year return to the team – and that they add no more on or after signing day on Feb. 7 – the Eagles will have 10 players at the position. Blake Gobel, who graduated and declared for the NFL draft, is the only confirmed departure.

The four wide receivers essentially take the place of the four who have announced their departure, which includes the transfers of Anthony Stell Jr. and Jakobie Keeney-James, as well as the graduation of Robert Mason III and Malaki Roberson.

Among the four receivers who signed Wednesday are incoming freshmen Ayden Martinez and Jaxon Branch, both listed as three-star recruits by

In addition to Martinez and Branch, the website lists six more of Eastern’s signees as three-star recruits, including quarterback Jake Schakel from Emerald Ridge High (Puyallup, Washington) and running back Kevin Allen III from Helix High School in San Diego.

Running back may be a particular position of need for the Eagles, who will return starter Tuna Altahir but not primary backup Justice Jackson, who announced his intention to transfer earlier this offseason.

On defense, the Eagles added three safeties, including the transfer Broussard as well as incoming in-state freshmen Tyce Donovan (White River High in Buckley) and Josiah Goode (Puyallup High ).

Eight of the signees are from Washington and 10 from California. Two – Coeur d’Alene linebacker Shea Robertson and Post Falls tight end Asher Bowie – are from Idaho.

One signee – offensive lineman Mark Johnson – is from British Columbia. Johnson joins receiver Nolan Ulm and offensive lineman Matthew Hewa Baddege to give the Eagles three Canadians on their roster.

The two defensive end recruits are both high-schoolers. John Stremler, from 1A Nooksack Valley, was an all-league linebacker and offensive lineman but is expected to move to end at Eastern. Clayton McCarrell, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound recruit from Faith Lutheran High in Las Vegas, is the other.

The lone cornerback in the class is Ambrose Marsh, another three-star recruit who received the highest grade among all 23 announced today on

Marsh, the younger brother of former Washington State cornerback Armani Marsh, was a first-team, all-league player at Eastside Catholic in Renton, Washington.