Senior from Richland, Wash., is selected to the second team, and Kupp and DeBord earn more first team accolades
The already heavily-honored trio of Aaron Neary, Clay DeBord and Cooper Kupp have added more All-America honors to their resumes, with that trio named to the Associated Press NCAA Football Championship All-America squad announced Wednesday (Dec. 16).
Neary, a senior guard and two-time All-America selection, was named to the AP second team. DeBord, a senior offensive tackle, and Kupp, a junior wide receiver, were honored on the first team a day after receiving the same honors on the STATS FCS All-America Team. Last week, the College Sports Madness All-America squad featured Kupp – a three-time All-America wide receiver – on its first team, and DeBord and Neary on the second squad.
All three players earned first team All-Big Sky accolades in 2015.
More About All-Americans Kupp, DeBord and Neary
All three players were preseason All-America selections, and all three hail from East of the Cascade Mountains in Washington. Kupp is a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash.; Neary is a 2011 graduate of Hanford HS in Richland, Wash.; and DeBord is a 2011 graduate of Asotin (Wash.) High School.
Together, that trio earned first team All-Big Sky Conference honors and helped Eastern rank eighth in FCS in total offense with an average of 478.5 yards per game, including the nation’s top passing offense (353.3 per game). Eastern was also 19th in scoring offense (34.6). Eastern had two of the top six performances for total offense in school history in 2015, including 667 against Montana State to rank fourth.
DeBord was a second team all-league pick in 2013 and honorable mention in 2014. Kupp, the 2015 Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP, will attempt to be just the fourth player in the 53-year history of the Big Sky Conference to earn first team all-league honors four times when he returns in 2016 for his senior season.
DeBord and Neary were among a group of 14 Eagle seniors who were a part of three Big Sky Conference championships and a trio of playoff berths. Eastern won 27 of 32 Big Sky Conference games and 40 games overall in the last four years. Kupp has been a part of two championships and playoff berth thus far, and a collective total of 29 wins overall and 20 league wins in three seasons.
DeBord started a school-record 51 games as an Eagle, playing in a total of 52. Neary started 24 of the 46 games he played, while Kupp has started all 39 he’s played in three seasons.
The Eagles have now had 24 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades in the last 23 years (1993-2015) while winning 26 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2015). In 2014, Neary joined tackle Jake Rodgers as All-America and first team All-Big Sky selections. Rodgers is now on the practice squad with the New York Giants of the National Football League after getting drafted in the seventh round (225th pick overall) by the Atlanta Falcons.
In addition, it was recently announced that DeBord will play in the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl. The all-star game will be played on Jan. 23 in Carson, Calif., at the StubHub Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills. It will be televised live on ESPN2, beginning at 3 p.m. Pacific time.
Kupp, who became only the second wide receiver in 42 years to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP Award, is also one of three finalists to win the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award which will be announced in January. He announced on Nov. 30 he will indeed return for his senior season at EWU in lieu of pursuing professional opportunities a year early.
Through his junior season, Kupp has established eight Big Sky Conference records, as well as 17 school marks and seven NCAA Football Championships records. His 122.4 average reception yards per game is currently a FCS career record, while his other six FCS records were set during his freshman season. His 114 catches this season broke the previous league record of 112, and ranks eighth all-time in FCS history. His average of 10.4 catches per game was also a league record (sixth all-time in FCS), to go along with six career marks he set in just three seasons – all ending with first team All-Big Sky accolades.
Kupp led FCS in five categories – receptions, receptions per game (10.4), reception yards (1,642), reception yards per game (149.3) and touchdown receptions (19). The players closest to him in FCS were eight catches, 298 yards and four TDs behind him, and in the league the next-best player for catches and yards was teammate Kendrick Bourne (73-998).
Kupp even passed for a pair of touchdowns this season and had another via punt return, giving him 58 total touchdowns scored and 60 accounted for in his 39-game career (all as a starter). In just three years, he already ranks second in FCS history in touchdown catches (56, two behind the record), second in reception yards (4,764, 486 behind the record) and fourth in receptions (311, 84 behind the record). All three marks are Big Sky records, and he also established a new league record for average catches per game (7.97), which also ranks third in FCS history.