Buchanan Award candidate Hamlin gets sixth year
Eagles' two-time All-America linebacker gets credit for losing 2009, 2010 seasons at Eastern
EWU linebacker Ronnie Hamlin will return for a sixth season after receiving a special exemption from the NCAA following seasons lost to injury in 2009 and 2010.
Ronnie Hamlin and that trademark hair flowing out of his helmet will return for another season with the Eastern Washington University football team.
Nearing the school record with a current career total of 361 tackles in 40 games, the Eagles' linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award candidate will return for the 2014 season after recently being given a sixth year by the NCAA.
The extra year of eligibility replaces two seasons wiped out because of injuries. He is a 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, and earned second team All-America and All-Big Sky honors in 2013 for the Eagles.
Eastern announced its 2014 recruiting class a month ago, and on April 4 Hamlin and his teammates will begin spring practice. But Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin is as excited as ever in March to announce the addition of a player voted by his teammates as a co-captain in 2013.
"He might be the best recruit in the class, he's a special player," Baldwin said. "It's great to have him back from a talent standpoint and a leadership standpoint as a team captain."
Hamlin is third in school history with 361 tackles, with the only players ahead of him Greg Belzer (399 from 1997-00) and J.C. Sherritt (432 from 2007-10). Hamlin is just 71 tackles from Sherritt, currently with the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos.
"He brings so much to our program on and off the field - 365 days a year - and he does things right," Baldwin said. "It's neat to see a decision like this made for such a quality player and person like Ronnie."
Hamlin originally hurt his left knee Sept. 2, 2009, just three days before EWU began its season. He had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 21, but then tore the ACL again during spring practice in April, 2010. He had surgery on June 17, then didn't hit the practice field again until spring of 2011.
He finished with 85 tackles his first season, 136 in 2012 and 140 last season. This past season, he finished 12th in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award presented by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS.
"We're anxious to see the snow melt away and we'll hit April rolling," Baldwin said. "The players are ready for it."