Edwards, Herd join former teammate in pre-draft training; Eastern QB Padron also likely to look at professional path
Ending weeks of speculation in the rumor mill, Eastern Washington junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman announced he was leaving school and entering April’s NFL draft that begins April 25.
EWU head coach Beau Baldwin has confirmed that Kaufman, a two-time All-American signed with an agent Jan. 6. Baldwin also said quarterback Kyle Padron, who transferred to Eastern 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,” Baldwin said. “They both have the talent it takes to succeed at the next level, and we will be excited to see their progress.”
As he prepares for the start of the draft April 25, Kaufman will train in Orlando, Fla., along with fellow Eagle wide receiver Greg Herd, who was a senior in 2012. Kaufman and Herd are being represented by Cameron Foster and the Foster Easley Sports Management Group of Seattle.
Kaufman reportedly vacillated at whether to make the move and pass up a fourth season at Eastern, edging towards signing with an agent and officially ending his college career, then moving back towards finishing school.
“Eventually I realized what would be better for me,” Kaufman said. The Denver, Colo. Native is just 20 credits shy of graduating and said he will continue to take classes this winter online.
Kanufman’s main focus now is to improve on his 40-yard times.” For me it’s being more explosive in those first steps,” he said. Kaufman said he’s pretty comfortable with the second 15 yards.
Kaufman had 93 receptions for 1,850 yards and 16 touchdowns as the Eagles (11-3) advanced to the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. He averaged 19.9 yards per catch. He finished his 42-game college career with 221 catches for 3,731 yards and 33 touchdowns, two in Eastern’s 20-19 victory over Delaware in the 2010 FCS national championship game in Frisco, Texas.
Padron, who started five games and played six others in a relief role, completed 59.1 percent of his passes for a team-leading 2,491 yards, 17 TDs and seven interceptions, and ranked 29th in FCS in passing yards per game (226.5). Padron threw a school-record six touchdown passes versus Illinois State in the FCS quarterfinal playoffs.
Besides Kaufman and Herd, several other Eagles who were seniors in 2012 are also pursuing opportunities in professional football. They include wide receiver Nicholas Edwards, who was expected to play in the Casino Del Sol College Football All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 11.
Edwards was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2012, but was hampered by an early-season knee injury that kept him out of three full games. He finished his senior season with 37 catches for 436 yards and four scores.
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.
Despite missing much of the season with a nagging hamstring injury, Johnson earned second team All-Big Sky honors in 2012. Post earned a trio of All-America honors in 2012, receiving recognition from the American Football Coaches Association (first team), Associated Press (first team) and Beyond Sports College Network (second team).
Ceja was on the College Sports Madness All-America squad (second team) and was a second team All-Big Sky selection in 2012. He finished 10th in FCS and third in the league with an average of 0.86 sacks per game.
An impressive 17-of-19 kicking field goals in the 2012 season, Pavel ranked 25th in FCS with an average of 1.21 field goals per game.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.